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Value Chains Advance

All you need to know about September retail performance is that the top gainers in comparative store sales — the top three — were all warehouse membership clubs: Costco, Sam's Club, and BJ's.

Even the corporate comp gain of 1.4% by Wal-Mart — considered the big winner last Thursday when monthly sales were reported — was mainly driven by the Sam's boost of 4.1%. U.S. Wal-Mart store comps rose just 0.8% over September 2006.

In fact, the only other retailers that reported a 1.0% comp gain or better, among the 16 publicly traded retailers tracked by Home Textiles Today, were off-pricer TJX, upscale discounter Target and discounter Fred's.

Where were the department stores? Check the Losers table, where Dillard's, Bon-Ton, and Stein Mart each posted 7% or steeper comp declines, while the bigger chains — JCPenney, down 4.6%, Kohl's, down 3.2%, and Macy's, off 2.7% — also sang the blues.

September was sluggish, with the August back-to-school same-store surge of 3.0% followed by a rather dismal 1.1% comp uptick in the latest month, according to the Johnson Redbook.

A bit more than half of the 52 companies surveyed by Redbook reported at least a minor comp gain. Still, aside from the 1.7% decline for the month of April 2007, September's dip was the worst performance in 12 months. The comp gain a year ago, in September 2006, had been 4.1%, Redbook reported.

As far as merchandise categories, the message at Wal-Mart was clear: "Overall, apparel and home remain soft," the company said.

Similarly, at JCPenney, "Sales were softest in the home and children's divisions," said chairman and ceo Mike Ullman.

Macy's said the weather was warm and last September's strong comp performance was too much for this month to overcome — even though chairman, president and ceo Terry Lundgren remarked, "Consumers responded positively to the launch of our exclusive Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's in September."

Department store operator Dillard's, with 330 locations in 29 states, reported, "The sales performance trend in the juniors' and children's apparel category and the home and other category were significantly below trend."

There was good news here and there for home.

"Cosmetics, hard home and soft home were the best performing categories," said Tony Buccina, vice chairman and president - merchandising at 279-unit department store operator Bon-Ton Stores.

"The top-performing merchandise categories during September continued to be dresses, with same-store sales up about 20%, and home with gains in the mid single digits," said Michael Balmuth, vice chairman, president and ceo of 869 store off-price operator Ross Stores.

Winners and Losers
Same-store sales % change

Winners
Costco 5.0
Sam's Club 4.1
BJ's 3.9
TJX Cos. 2.0
Target 1.2
Fred's 1.0
Losers
Stein Mart -9.1
Bon-Ton -7.1
Dillard's -7.0
JCPenney -4.6
Gottschalks -3.9
Kohl's -3.2
Macy's -2.7


Sept. Sales for Key Retailers
Four weeks ended October 6a(dollar amounts in millions)

2007 sales 2006 sales Total % chg. Same-store % chg.
a. Reporting periods vary from chain to chain.
b. Costco: 16 weeks (4th quarter) and full fiscal year ended Sept. 2.
c. Duckwall-ALCO: 5 weeks and 35 weeks ended Sept. 30.
d. Family Dollar: Fiscal year began Sept. 2.
e.Wal-Mart: 5 weeks and 35 weeks ended Oct. 5.
BJ's Wholesale Club $798.9 $735.4 8.6 3.9
The Bon-Ton Stores $307.9 $329.4 (6.5) (7.1)
Costco b $20,090.0 $19,500.0 3.0 5.0
Dillard Dept. Stores $649.2 $686.7 (5.0) (7.0)
Duckwall-ALCO c $42.0 $41.1 2.2 0.0
Family Dollar $614.2 $591.3 3.9 0.5
Fred's $161.4 $158.7 2.0 1.0
Gottschalks $52.8 $57.2 (7.7) (3.9)
J.C. Penney $1,622.0 $1,662.0 (2.4) N.A
Dept. stores $1,362.0 $1,378.0 (1.2) (4.6)
Catalog/e-commerce $260.0 $284.0 (8.5) N.A
Kohl's Corp. $1,327.2 $1,253.3 5.9 (3.2)
Macy's $2,274.0 $2,300.0 (1.1) (2.7)
Ross Stores $537.0 $510.0 5.0 0.0
Stein Mart $127.2 $131.4 (3.2) (9.1)
Target Corp. $5,190.0 $4,885.0 6.2 1.2
TJX Cos. $1,800.0 $1,700.0 5.0 2.0
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. e $34,406.0 $31,369.0 9.7 1.4
Wal-Mart Stores $21,447.0 $20,159.0 6.4 0.8
Sam's Club $4,066.0 $3,807.0 6.8 4.1
International $8,893.0 $7,403.0 20.1 N.A
35 WEEKS YEAR-TO-DATEa
BJ's Wholesale Club $5,720.0 $5,323.0 7.5 3.0
The Bon-Ton Stores $1,982.0 $1,863.0 6.4 N.A
Costco b $63,090.0 $58,960.0 7.0 6.0
Dillard Dept. Stores $4,598.4 $4,765.1 (4.0) (4.0)
Duckwall-ALCO c $312.9 $301.4 3.8 1.9
Family Dollar d $614.2 $591.3 3.9 0.5
Fred's $1,157.0 $1,108.0 5.0 1.3
Gottschalks $382.4 $401.5 (4.8) (3.4)
JCPenney $11,927.0 $11,701.0 1.9 N.A
JCPenney stores $10,211.0 $9,930.0 2.8 0.3
Catalog/e-commerce $1,716.0 $1,771.0 (3.1) N.A
Kohl's Corp. $9,711.9 $8,893.8 9.2 1.3
Macy's $15,873.0 $15,949.0 (0.5) (0.9)
Ross Stores $3,853.0 $3,547.0 9.0 1.0
Stein Mart $926.5 $928.2 (0.2) (3.1)
Target Corp. $37,687.0 $34,575.0 9.1 4.3
TJX Cos. $11,700.0 $10,900.0 7.0 4.0
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. e $241,893.0 $222,584.0 8.7 N.A
Wal-Mart stores $154,744.0 $145,610.0 6.3 0.8
Sam's Clubs $29,244.0 $27,337.0 7.0 4.9
International $57,905.0 $49,637.0 16.7 N.A


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