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Retailers Cried the April Blues

Hit by a trifecta of an early Easter, rising gas prices, and cold and wet weather throughout parts of the country, same-store retail sales approached their lowest point in recent memory during April. Even some of the nation's strongest retailers, including Kohl's and Target, recorded unexpected drops.

Underlining the breadth of the April debacle, 16 of the 19 retail nameplates whose same-store sales are tracked by HTT this month, an unnerving 84%, recorded a drop in same-store sales, including some of America's strongest retailers.

Four of the 19, roughly 20%, posted double-digit drops.

Among the more notable losers was Kohl's, where same-store sales plunged by 10.5%. Target found itself an unexpected loser with its comps sinking 6.1%.

And Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, reported the worst single month in its comp-store history, with same-store sales in U.S. Wal-Mart Stores sinking by 4.6%, while comps for the entire company fell by 3.5%, the overall slide moderated by a 2.3% increase at Sam's.

Among the major retailer operators that carry home fashions products, only three merchants recorded gains — all of them low-cost leaders. The big winner was Costco, with its consistent focus on low prices in a no-frills environment. There, same-store sales improved by 7.0%.

A second warehouse operator, Sam's, rose 2.3%. A third value specialist, softlines off-price giant TJX, rounded out the leader board with a 2.0% increase.

Winners and losers
Same-store sales % change

Winners
Costco 7.0%
Sam's Club 2.3
TJX 2.0
Losers
Bon-Ton -15.8%
Dillard -14.0
Stein Mart -13.9
Kohl's -10.5
Ross -7.0
Target -6.1
Gottschalks -5.4
Family Dollar -4.9
JCPenney Stores -4.7
Wal-Mart Stores -4.6


APRIL SALES FOR KEY RETAILERS
Four weeks ended May 5 (dollar amounts in millions) a

2007 sales 2006 sales Total % chg. Same-store % chg.
a-Reporting periods vary from store to store.
b-Total sales include Carson's results, but same-store sales are for Bon-Ton alone.
c-For the 36 weeks year-to-date of the company's fiscal year.
d-For the nine weeks year-to-date of the company's fiscal year.
BJ's Wholesale Club $618.5 $606.7 1.9 (2.1)
The Bon-Ton Stores b $211.9 $245.6 (13.7) (15.8)
Costco $4,940.0 $4,430.0 12.0 7.0
Dillard Dept. Stores $490.4 $562.3 (12.8) (14.0)
Dollar General $674.5 $673.3 0.2 (2.4)
Family Dollar $481.3 $489.2 (1.6) (4.9)
Federated $1,837.0 $1,875.0 (2.1) (2.2)
Fred's $126.7 $125.3 1.1 (2.5)
Gottschalks $40.3 $43.3 (6.9) (5.4)
J.C. Penney $1,321.0 $1,369.0 (3.5) NA
Dept. stores $1,136.0 $1,168.0 (2.7) (4.7)
Catalog/e-commerce $185.0 $201.0 (8.0) NA
Kohl's Corp. $1,095.1 $1,138.9 (3.8) (10.5)
Ross Stores $417.0 $416.0 0.0 (7.0)
Stein Mart $109.3 $124.0 (11.8) (13.9)
Target Corp. $3,903.0 $3,974.0 (1.8) (6.1)
TJX Cos. $1,280.0 $1,260.0 1.6 2.0
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. $26,568.0 $25,625.0 3.7 (3.5)
Wal-Mart Stores $16,870.0 $16,795.0 0.4 (4.6)
Sam's Club $3,272.0 $3,145.0 4.0 2.3
International $6,426.0 $5,685.0 13.0 NA
13 WEEKS YEAR-TO-DATEa
BJ's Wholesale Club $2,011.1 $1,886.6 6.6 2.3
The Bon-Ton Stores b $737.6 $561.8 31.3 (2.5)
Costco c $43,050.0 $39,470.0 9.0 5.0
Dillard Dept. Stores $1,763.2 $1,837.8 (4.1) (5.0)
Dollar General $2,270.0 $2,150.0 5.7 2.4
Family Dollar d $1,132.8 $1,083.6 4.5 1.0
Federated $5,924.0 $5,930.0 (0.1) 0.6
Fred's $442.2 $416.7 6.1 1.9
Gottschalks $141.8 $143.5 (1.2) (0.8)
JCPenney $4,350.0 $4,220.0 3.1 2.5
JCPenney stores $3,690.0 $3,535.0 4.4 2.2
Catalog/e-commerce $660.0 $685.0 (3.6) NA
Kohl's Corp. $3,572.0 $3,196.3 11.8 3.9
Ross Stores $1,411.0 $1,310.0 7.7 0.0
Stein Mart $376.1 $364.8 3.1 (2.0)
Target Corp. $13,623.0 $12,498.2 9.0 4.3
TJX Cos. $4,200.0 $3,900.0 7.7 (1.0)
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. $87,617.0 $81,076.0 8.1 0.7
Wal-Mart stores $56,559.0 $53,603.0 5.5 0.0
Sam's Clubs $10,587.0 $9,993.0 5.9 4.3
International $20,471.0 $17,480.0 17.1 NA


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