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Chilly days warm stores' checkouts

September's cold snap warmed some retailers' sales and aided a somewhat more robust performance in home.

"We are very pleased that September sales outperformed our expectations. Apparel sales benefited by seasonably cool, fall weather in September this year, compared with unseasonably warm weather during the same month last year," said Edmond English, president and ceo, The TJX Cos., a sentiment echoed by others.

TJX's divisions also did well individually: Winners and Home Sense in Canada reported a 33 percent jump in total sales, due largely to favorable exchange rates; T.K. Maxx scored a 16 percent increase; HomeGoods a 3.0 percent increase and A.J. Wright a 17.0 percent jump. The MarMaxx group posted a 5.0 percent increase in sales, and a 1.0 percent gain in home fashions.

Wal-Mart Stores reported a double-digit sales increase to $23.4 billion for the month, as did the Wal-Mart division and Sam's Club. At Wal-Mart, comps increased 5.6 percent, two-thirds of which were due to the growth in average ticket and traffic.

Wal-Mart's international division also increased 14.9 percent to $4.3 billion, with particular strength in the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, Canada, and its Sam's Clubs in Brazil.

Sears said its sales climbed 3.2 percent for the month to $2.5 billion. While the broader home category, including appliances, electronics, and lawn and garden, achieved mid-single-digit growth, the home fashions/ household goods segment was down in the low single digits. The Great Indoors format posted a high single-digit comp.

The Target division at Target Stores had a strong month, reporting comparable sales jumped 7.2 percent, while Marshall Field's increased 2.4 percent. Mervyn's pulled the company down, however, with a 10.0 percent decline, the worst of all the retailers surveyed this month. Target Corp. announced total sales of $3.937 billion, a 12.3 percent climb, while the Target division had a 14.8 percent increase to $3.4 billion.

With an 0.7 percent same store sales increase, JCPenney said its Back-to-School merchandise for JCPenney performed well in September, as did the home category. The catalog/Internet segment also continued to do well, growing 12.9 percent. Internet sales grew more than 60 percent for the month, the company said.

The home segment at Kohl's was also strong, with double-digit increases. Overall the retailer reported total sales growth of 18.0 percent and comps of 5.5 percent. The number of transactions grew 5.0 percent, and the average transaction was up 0.4 percent.

Ross Stores was "especially pleased" with its double-digit comparable sales growth in its home categories, "which we believe bodes well for the holiday season," said Michael Balmuth, vice chairman and ceo. The retailer had a strong 16.0 percent total sales increase and 10.0 percent comp sales gain.

Elder-Beerman, which had a comp sales growth of 2.9 percent, included domestics among its strongest categories.

That was also true at Dollar General, which listed home along with hardware, toys and stationery and the shoe department as the leading performers. The company saw its comps increase 3.8 percent.

However, the opposite was true at Dillard's, where home was weakest.

Stein Mart's total sales and same-store sales both decreased in September, by 3.1 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively. "While comparable store sales continue to be disadvantaged by the elimination of unrestricted coupons, that impact appears to be moderating and our September sales decline was less severe than anticipated," said Michael Fisher, president and ceo.

TOP 3
Company % chg.
BJ's 12.4%
Retail Ventures 10.6
Costco 10.0
BOTTOM 3
Company % chg.
Mervyns -10.0%
Shopko stores 3.8
Stein Mart -3.3


September sales for major retailers
Total chain sales, including all merchandise departments, for period ending 8/4/03a
sales in $millions

Company 2003 sales 2002 sales Total % change Same-store % change
a: Reporting periods vary from store to store.
b: BJ's debuts this month on chart.
c: For the period ended Oct. 5.
d: For the period ended Sept. 27.
e: Excluding the remaining 32 stores that May previously said it will divest, the adjusted comp store sales increased 0.4 percent.
f: Value City Department Stores Inc. has changed its corporate name to Retail Ventures Inc.
BJ's Wholesale Clubb $606.4 $504.7 20.2% 12.4%
Costcoc 4,070.0 3,590.0 13.4 10.0
Dillard Dept. Stores 707.7 687.0 3.0 3.0
Dollar General 638.8 567.6 12.5 3.8
Elder-Beerman 59.7 58.2 2.6 2.9
Family Dollar 463.6 402.6 15.2 5.3
Federated 1,352.0 1,314.0 2.9 3.2
Gottschalks 53.8 56.2 (4.3) (1.6)
Hancock Fabricsc 43.7 43.3 0.9 0.5
JCPenneyd 2,866.0 2,830.0 1.3 NA
Dept. stores 1,232.0 1,242.0 (0.8) 0.7
Catalog/e-commerce 245.0 217.0 12.9 NA
Jo-Ann Stores 165.2 159.6 3.5 3.3
Kohl's Corp. 797.4 675.5 18.0 5.5
May Dept. Stores 1,135.0 1,117.8 1.5 (0.3)
Pier 1 Imports 168.7 152.8 10.4 2.0
Retail Venturesf 261.4 225.4 16.0 10.6
Value City Dept. stores 138.2 129.1 7.0 7.1
Ross Stores 363.0 314.0 15.6 5.0
Saks Inc. 591.7 561.5 5.4 4.0
Dept. stores 348.6 325.5 7.1 6.0
Sears U.S. sales 2,453.3 2,369.7 3.5 3.2
ShopKo 266.8 272.0 (1.9) (1.7)
ShopKo stores 196.9 NA (3.8) (3.8)
Pamida 69.9 NA 3.8 4.6
Stein Mart 124.4 128.4 (3.1) (3.3)
Target Corp. 3,937.0 3,507.0 12.3 5.4
Target 3,362.0 NA 14.8 7.2
Mervyn's 266.0 NA (9.3) (10.0)
Marshall Field's 235.0 NA 1.1 2.4
TJX Cos. 1,313.0 1,131.0 16.1 8.0
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. 23,390.0 20,703.0 13.0 6.0
Wal-Mart stores 15,850.0 14,064.0 12.7 5.6
Sam's Club 3,210.0 2,870.0 11.8 8.2
35 weeks to date
BJ's Wholesale Club NA NA NA NA
Costco NA NA NA NA
Dillard Dept. Stores $4,818.6 $5,013.8 (3.9%) (3.0%)
Dollar General 4,400.0 3,900.0 12.8 4.4
Elder-Beerman 364.7 378.9 (3.7) (3.1)
Family Dollar NA NA NA NA
Federated 9,154.0 9,337.0 (2.0) (2.0)
Gottschalks 393.6 409.6 (3.9) (1.4)
Hancock Fabricsc 278.0 270.8 2.7 2.9
JCPenneyd 20,280.0 20,266.0 0.1 NA
JCPenney stores 8,763.0 8,907.0 (1.6) (0.1)
Catalog/e-commerce 1,576.0 1,603.0 (1.7) NA
Jo-Ann Stores 1,022.0 997.1 2.5 3.4
Kohl's Corp. 5,897.0 5,136.1 14.8 0.5
May Dept. Stores 7,961.7 8,208.2 (3.0) (4.9)
Pier 1 Imports 999.2 948.2 5.4 (3.0)
Retail Venturesf 1,659.6 1,569.1 5.8 0.9
Value City Dept. stores 941.5 945.4 (0.4) 0.0
Ross Stores 2,523.0 2,289.0 10.2 0.0
Saks Inc. 3,591.8 3,600.7 (0.2) (0.8)
Dept. stores 2,133.7 2,127.9 0.3 (0.7)
Sears U.S. sales 17,408.7 17,692.7 (1.6) (2.2)
ShopKo 1,995.6 NA (2.0) (1.9)
ShopKo stores 1,481.7 NA (3.5) (3.5)
Pamida 513.9 NA 2.4 3.2
Stein Mart 851.5 893.9 (4.7) (6.9)
Target Corp. 28,194.0 NA 9.0 1.9
Target 24,220.0 NA 11.3 3.4
Mervyn's 2,101.0 NA (7.7) (8.1)
Marshall Field's 1,495.0 NA (4.2) (3.2)
TJX Cos. 8,206.0 7,528.0 9.0 1.0
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. 163,510.0 147,035.0 11.2 3.8
Wal-Mart stores 111,122.0 100,507.0 10.6 3.6
Sam's Club 22,343.0 20,575.0 8.6 4.4


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