Retailers enjoying the warmer weather
By Don Hogsett -- Home Textiles Today, 4/12/2004 12:00:00 AM
NEW YORK —
Helped by warmer weather and strong sales of spring clothing, sales for the nation's major retailers surged ahead in March at their strongest pace in recent memory.
The news was especially good for the nation's full-price department stores, which showed signs of ending a two-year sales drought with an unusually strong performance, many recording double-digit gains in same-store sales, remarkably outperforming their mass-merchant competitors during the month.
Leading off the department stores was JCPenney, still on a roll as it revitalizes its core business, pushing same-store sales up 11.4 percent. Marshall Field's, recently put on the block by its parent, Target Stores, was another big winner, with a 9.9 percent jump in comps.
Also performing strongly, for the most part, were discount department stores, led by Stein Mart, with a stunning 18.4 percent increase.
TJX scored with a 9 percent increase, followed by Ross Stores, up 7 percent. Others continue to disappoint, like Mervyn's, where comps inched up by 0.8 percent, but still managed, surprisingly, to beat out Kohl's, where comps slipped by 0.9 percent, making the former high-flier one of the month's weakest performers.
Among the heavy hitters swinging the biggest bats last month:
Stein-Mart, where same-store sales recovered from a long slump and jumped up 18.4 percent.
J.C. Penney Department stores, with same-store sales rising 11.4 percent.
Gottschalks hit the comeback trail with a comp-store gain of 11.2 percent.
Costco, the big warehouse operator, drove same-store sales up 11 percent.
May Department Stores pushed same-store sales up 10.1 percent.
Target Corp. drove comps up 7.3 percent, but in a big surprise, the department store group, Marshall Field's, put up a bigger gain than Target Stores, 9.9 percent versus 7.8 percent. Mervyn's was still idling in the doldrums, with same-store sales inching up just 0.8 percent.
Wal-Mart, the nation's — and the world's — largest retailer, drove U.S. same-store sales up 6 percent. Sam's Club continued its recent rebound, with comps shooting up 8.3 percent, and Wal-Mart Stores improving comps by 5.6 percent.
Among the month's disappointments:
Kohl's keeps testing the bottom, as same-store sales fell by 0.9 percent.
Sears, where same-store sales were stuck in neutral, edged up just 0.1 percent.
The Bon-Ton Stores recorded a 1.7 percent drop in sales following its buyout of Elder-Beerman.
The March run-up continues a new year's rally begun in January with post-holiday sales.
The Johnson Redbook Same-Store Sales Index, which tracks a universe of 67 retailers each month, including apparel specialty stores and footwear retailers, reported that sales have trended substantially higher for each of the first three months of the year.
Sales climbed 6 percent in January, driven by sales and markdowns; up 7 percent in February; and now up 6.8 percent in March. Almost one of every three stores tracked by the Johnson Redbook, 21 of the 67, posted a double-digit increase in same-store sales during March.
Department stores (mostly) win big
|May Department Stores||10.1|
|Saks Dept. Store Group||1.9|
|The Bon-Ton Stores||-1.7|
|Off-Pricers also hit it big|
March sales for major retailers
Total chain sales, including all merchandise departments, for period ending 04/03/04a
Sales in $millions
|Company||2004 sales||2003 sales||Total % change||Same-store % change|
|BJ's Wholesale Club||$620.3||$551.1||12.6||7.0|
|The Bon-Ton Stores||$104.6||$54.3||92.7||(1.7)|
|Dillard Dept. Stores||$691.0||$667.2||3.6||3.0|
|May Dept. Stores||$1,181.0||$1,059.1||11.5||10.1|
|Pier 1 Imports||$168.5||$150.1||12.3||3.5|
|Value City Department Stores||$134.8||$137.8||(2.1)||(2.1)|
|Sears U.S. sales||$2,370.5||$2,400.8||(1.3)||0.1|
|Wal-Mart Stores Inc.||$25,131.0||$22,049.0||14.0||6.0|
|Nine weeks to date|
|BJ's Wholesale Club||$1,105.5||$981.3||12.7||7.1|
|The Bon-Ton Stores||$181.6||$93.7||93.9||(0.8)|
|Dillard Dept. Stores||$1,312.0||$1,277.4||2.7||2.0|
|May Dept. Stores||$2,061.3||$1,905.2||8.2||6.7|
|Pier 1 Importsc||$168.5||$150.1||12.3||3.5|
|Value City Department Stores||$228.8||$226.5||1.0||1.0|
|Sears U.S. sales||$4,112.5||$4,150.7||(0.9)||0.5|
|Wal-Mart Stores Inc.||$45,293.0||$39,738.0||14.0||5.8|
|a-Reporting periods vary from store to store.|
|b-for the 31 weeks year to date|
|c-for the five weeks and year-to-date periods|
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