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Disappointing results in April shower retailers

Even with the addition of Easter into the month, retailers still fought a difficult battle to get customers into the stores to buy. The cold weather that permeated across the nation helped consumers hibernate at home.

The discounters and dollar stores continued to see positive numbers in April, while most department stores fell into negative numbers. Most came up short of expectations.

Wal-Mart Stores' comps grew 4.6 percent for the company, while the divisions saw same-store sales grow: 5.1 percent at Wal-Mart and 2.0 percent at Sam's Club.

SDSG, Sears and JCPenney's department stores led with the biggest losses for the month.

Sears saw comparable store sales slide 8.5 percent, and the home fashions and home décor in the full line stores declined in the mid teen percentage range. The Great Indoors comps also dropped in the mid teens, the company said.

Saks Department Store Group, which experienced the largest comp-store sales drop, of 9.1 percent, saw its soft home area as one of the weakest merchandise categories for the month.

The department stores of JCPenney had comps fall 6.9 percent. The company's catalog sales did better than plan, it said, with a decrease of 7.4 percent, and its Internet sales grew by more than 25 percent for the month and quarter.

Even Kohl's comps dropped 4.1 percent.

Federated also declined 1.4 percent, which outperformed analysts' forecasts of a 2.6 percent decline.

Dillard's was down 2.2 percent in comps and 2.2 percent total sales. But the home area performed slightly above average.

"We are disappointed that pre-Easter selling during the month was not strong enough to offset the poor retail selling environment, which remains extremely challenging," said Michael Fisher, president and ceo, Stein Mart, which reported sales slides of 3.0 percent for total and 3.8 percent comps.

A surprising first place leader in positive comps for the month was ShopKo's Pamida division, with an impressive 9.2 percent gain. Family Dollar and Value City Department Stores both placed second with 7.1 percent.

Though Target Stores had a strong 5.6 percent increase for the month, the 4.6 percent and 6.3 percent declines from Mervyn's and Marshall Field's, respectively, pulled down the total company number to a 3.9 percent increase. Domestics at Target Stores was one of the underperformers for the month, while home at Mervyn's was one of the strongest.

After reemerging from Chapter 11 last week, Kmart announced that its comp-store sales for April climbed 1.1 percent, due in part to the Easter holiday shift into April this year. The company added that inventory clearance sales at the 316 closing stores, which were completed by April 13, are not included in the same-store sales comparisons. Going forward, however, the company will not be filing monthly operating reports.

At TJX, home fashions at the MarMaxx group declined 2.0 percent for the month, while the division declined 3.0 percent. And though Winners and HomeSense in Canada fell 2.0 percent, the other divisions had a strong April, with HomeGoods up 4.0 percent, TK Maxx up 18.0 percent and A.J. Wright up 13.0 percent. Overall, the company's good Easter performance was offset by the continued cold weather, it said, and once the weather warms up, customers will shop more.

Pier 1 Imports performed well for the month, growing 5 percent in comps, and has already seen a positive sales trend for May.

TOP 3
Company % chg.
Pamida 9.2
Family Dollar 7.1
Value City Dept. stores 7.1
BOTTOM 3
Company % chg.
Saks Dept Store Group -9.1
Sears -8.5
JCPenney dept. stores -6.9


April sales for major retailers (period ending 5/3/03)a
(sales in $millions)

Company 2003 sales 2002 sales Total % change Same-store % change
a: Reporting periods vary from store to store.
b: Numbers not available.
c: For the period ending May 4.
d: For the period ending May 2.
e: For the period ending April 26.
f: Excludes sales of stores that have been closed and not replaced.
Costco c $3,140.0 $2,840.0 10.6 6.0
Dillard Dept. Stores 536.5 548.4 (2.2) (2.0)
Dollar General d 490.3 427.2 14.8 5.9
Elder-Beerman 44.2 46.2 (4.3) (5.6)
Family Dollar 366.1 310.6 17.9 7.1
Federated 1,076.0 1,096.0 (1.8) (1.4)
Gottschalks 43.0 45.6 (5.7) (3.0)
Hancock Fabrics 30.2 30.1 0.3 1.7
JCPenney e 2,383.0 2,464.0 (3.3) NA
Dept. stores 1,057.0 1,152.0 (8.2) (6.9)
Catalog/e-commerce 175.0 189.0 (7.4) NA
Jo-Ann Stores 119.2 117.2 1.7 3.5
Kmart b NA NA NA 1.1
Kohl's Corp. 718.0 679.0 5.7 (4.1)
May Dept. Stores 967.4 1,006.0 (3.8) (5.6)
Pier 1 Imports 120.6 114.8 5.1 (2.6)
Ross Stores 289.0 264.0 9.5 (1.0)
Saks Inc. 481.5 492.5 (2.2) (2.4)
Dept. stores 256.2 279.9 (8.5) (9.1)
Sears U.S. sales 1,993.7 2,167.7 (8.0) (8.5)
ShopKo 224.2 217.0 3.3 3.5
ShopKo stores 164.4 NA 1.6 1.6
Pamida 59.8 NA 8.5 9.2
Stein Mart 108.4 111.8 (3.0) (3.8)
Target Corp. 3,191.0 2,866.0 11.3 3.9
Target 2,752.0 NA 14.0 5.6
Mervyn's 244.0 NA (4.3) (4.6)
Marshall Field's 164.0 NA (7.6) (6.3)
TJX Cos. 956.0 899.0 6.3 0.0
Value City 205.8 192.8 6.7 2.0
Value City Dept. stores 116.3 109.2 6.5 7.1
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. d 18,562.0 16,538.0 12.2 4.6
Wal-Mart stores 12,621.0 11,250.0 12.2 5.1
Sam's Club 2,494.0 2,336.0 6.8 2.0
13 weeks to date
Costco c NA NA NA NA
Dillard Dept. Stores $1,813.9 $1,910.9 (5.1) (5.0)
Dollar General d 1,600.0 1,400.0 14.3 4.2
Elder-Beerman 131.1 141.2 (7.2) (7.7)
Family Dollar NA NA NA NA
Federated 3,292.0 3,453.0 (4.7) (5.0)
Gottschalks 140.6 149.6 (6.0) (4.0)
Hancock Fabrics 107.4 104.1 3.2 4.2
JCPenney e 7,493.0 7,728.0 (3.0) NA
JCPenney stores 3,136.0 3,346.0 (6.3) (4.9)
Catalog/e-commerce 587.0 660.0 (11.1) NA
Jo-Ann Stores 374.8 372.4 0.6 2.6
Kmart b NA NA NA NA
Kohl's Corp. 2,117.7 1,870.6 13.2 (2.4)
May Dept. Stores 2,872.6 3,096.2 (7.2) (8.8)
Pier 1 Imports 270.7 260.3 4.0 (4.4)
Ross Stores 879.0 820.0 7.2 (3.0)
Saks Inc. 1,371.1 1,416.2 (3.2) (3.4)
Dept. stores 794.9 813.8 (2.3) (2.9)
Sears U.S. sales 6,143.5 6,523.9 (5.8) (6.8)
ShopKo 707.9 NA (2.9) (2.7)
ShopKo stores 530.5 NA (4.0) (4.0)
Pamida 177.4 NA 0.6 1.3
Stein Mart 330.6 356.0 (7.1) (9.3)
Target Corp. 10,006.0 NA 7.2 (0.1)
Target 8,577.0 NA 9.3 1.1
Mervyn's 762.0 NA (7.0) (7.3)
Marshall Field's 558.0 NA (5.5) (4.9)
TJX Cos. 2,841.0 2,710.0 4.8 (2.0)
Value City 588.5 585.9 0.4 (4.4)
Value City Dept. stores 342.9 359.2 (4.5) (4.0)
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. d 58,369.0 53,100.0 9.9 2.5
Wal-Mart stores 39,690.0 36,303.0 9.3 2.5
Sam's Clubs 8,016.0 7,459.0 7.5 2.4


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