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National chains see same-store sales rise

NEW YORK -The sales momentum for the major U.S. retail chains started late last month, but it still carried the big retailers to their best monthly result since earlier this year.

Seven of the chains tracked in Home Textiles Today's monthly report on chain sales finished November with same-store sales increases of 5 percent or better (5 percent is considered the good-health level in comp-store sales increases). Just four of these chains posted same-store sales drops last month. These two results were the best for the chain gang in some time.

While hardly indicative of boom times for retail, the chain results were the best news heard in this sector of the economy since earlier this year. The momentum started early last week, when anecdotal evidence showed that retailers had had a jolly day after Thanksgiving.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest chain, said single-day sales for Nov. 24 topped $1.1 billion. JCPenney and May Co. also reported good results for the day. Like many retailers, Wal-Mart initiated a "holiday blitz" involving major sales to draw traffic into the stores.

On an overall basis, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said Thanksgiving weekend store traffic rose 6.5 percent over last year's comparable period.

For all of November, the ever-ebullient Kohl's led the chain pack with an 11.2 percent same-store increase, the only chain on Home Textiles Today's list to make double digits. Others at the top included Gottschalks, with an 8.3 percent comp-store hike; Pier 1 Imports, up 7.1 percent; and Family Dollar, up 6.1 percent.

On a channel-specific basis, Target took the honors in the mass-merchant division with a 5.9 percent same-store sales increase. Even with its billion-dollar Friday after Thanksgiving, Wal-Mart's comp-store results improved just 4.4 percent (taking the company as a whole); Wal-Mart stores edged its same-store results with 4.7 percent. Kmart managed a 3.3 percent increase in same-store sales.

Curiously, November's biggest losers were all in the discount category, led by Value City's 5.4 percent same-store drop. The other declines came from Bradlees (down 4.3 percent), Ross Stores (down 3.0 percent) and Ames (down 2.1 percent). Another curious result came from Costco; normally at or near double digits in terms of same-store increases, the warehouse chain pushed its comp-store sales up a meager

3 percent.

Both May Co. and Sears reported 2.8 percent hops in their same-store sales. JCPenney posted its first up month in some time with a 0.7 percent same-store increase.

Analyst Wayne Hood of Prudential Securities said both department stores and mass merchants as a whole had better Novembers than Octobers. Hood believes that "holiday sales will come late, and we won't see any real boosts until it gets close to Christmas."

Michael Niemira, vp of the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, said the Thanksgiving weekend sales were "a good start to the season. But where it all goes from here remains to be seen."

Lower consumer confidence and higher oil prices remain concerns. Diane Swonk, chief economist with Bank One, predicted last week that holiday retail sales should rise about 6.5 percent this year over last year-the lowest gain in four years, she said.

On the more upbeat side, NRF president Tracy Mullin, said, "Our optimism is confirmed." Mullin was referring to NRF's annual survey of projected holiday shopping.

The TOP 3


STORE % chg.

Kohl's

11.2%

Gottschalks

8.3

Pier 1 Imports

7.1


The BOTTOM 3


STORE % chg.

Value City

-5.4%

Bradlees

-4.3

Ross Stores

-3.0


November sales for major retailers/Period ending 11/25/00 (sales in $000s)


Company 2000 sales 1999 sales Total % change Same store % change

Ames

$411.0

$401.8

2.3

-2.1

Bradlees

143.0

147.0

-2.7

-4.3

Costcob

2,660.0

2,460.0

8.1

3.0

Dillard's

636.5

647.3

-1.7

-1.0

Dollar Generalc

397.4

341.7

16.3

2.0

Elder-Beerman

71.5

69.0

3.6

0.7

Family Dollar

277.2

237.0

17.0

6.1

Federated

1,720.0

1,696.0

1.4

NA

Dept. stores

1,535.0

1,487.0

3.2

1.4

Gottschalks

68.6

51.0

34.5

8.3

JCPenney

2,921.0

2,876.0

1.6

NA

Dept. stores

1,427.0

1,426.0

0.1

0.7

Catalog

397.0

390.0

1.8

NA

Kmartd

2,930.0

2,865.0

2.3

3.3

Kohl's

675.4

515.9

30.9

11.2

May Co.e

1,353.4

1,268.0

6.7

2.8

Pier 1 Imports

117.4

105.3

11.5

7.1

Ross Stores

245.0

233.0

5.2

-3.0

Saks Inc.

624.6

622.0

0.4

NA

Dept. stores

384.7

376.0

2.3

2.7

Sears

3,663.7

3,567.9

2.7

NA

U.S. sales

2,751.9

2,653.0

3.7

2.8

ShopKo

326.8

298.5

9.5

6.8

Target Corp.

3,272.0

2,953.0

10.8

5.4

Target

2,607.0

NA

13.8

5.9

Mervyn's

379.0

NA

5.3

5.3

Dept. stores

246.0

NA

0.9

0.9

TJX

892.0

820.0

8.8

2.0

Value City

188.6

171.3

10.1

-5.4

Wal-Martc

16,441.0

15,023.0

9.4

4.4

Wal-Mart stores

NA

NA

NA

4.7

Sam's Club

2,242.0

2,125.0

5.5

3.1

43 WEEKS YEAR TO DATE

2000 sales

1999 sales

Total % change

Same store % change

Ames

3,034.0

2,961.0

2.5

-1.6

Bradlees

1,181.0

1,200.0

-1.6

-4.4

Costcob

NA

NA

NA

NA

Dillard's

6,541.1

6,729.1

-2.8

-3.0

Dollar Generalc

3,500.0

3,000.0

16.7

0.9

Elder-Beerman

499.1

487.1

2.5

-0.6

Family Dollar

NA

NA

NA

NA

Federated

14,012.0

13,439.0

4.3

NA

Dept. stores

12,462.0

12,139.0

2.7

2.2

Gottschalks

472.3

403.7

17.0

5.9

JCPenney

25,817.0

25,552.0

1.0

NA

Dept. stores

11,210.0

11,540.0

-2.9

-2.5

Catalog

3,039.0

3,085.0

-1.5

NA

Kmartd

28,322.0

27,685.0

2.3

0.8

Kohl's

4,604.3

3,465.5

32.9

8.0

May Co.e

10,863.8

10,439.1

4.1

0.1

Pier 1 Imports

981.0

851.0

15.3

10.6

Ross Stores

2,175.0

2,007.0

8.4

1.0

Saks Inc.

NA

NA

NA

NA

Dept. stores

NA

NA

NA

NA

Sears

32,522.0

31,220.1

4.2

NA

U.S. sales

23,768.1

22,770.7

4.4

3.1

ShopKo

2,710.2

2,312.0

17.2

1.7

Target Corp.

27,453.0

NA

8.3

2.9

Target

21,780.0

NA

10.9

4.0

Mervyn's

3,098.0

NA

0.9

1.1

Dept. stores

2,234.0

NA

-3.1

-3.7

TJX

7,719.0

7,089.0

8.9

2.0

Value City

1,572.0

1,325.5

18.6

0.6

Wal-Martc

153,126.0

130,319.0

17.5

5.8

Wal-Mart stores

NA

NA

NA

5.8

Sam's Club

21,449.0

19,859.0

8.0

5.6


a: Reporting periods vary from store to store.

b: For the period ending Nov. 26.

c: For the period ending Nov. 24.

d: For the period ending Nov. 22.

e: Excludes sales from stores that have been closed and not replaced.

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