April Sales Roundup: Catalogs in Bloom

The weather isn’t the only that’s warming up. As demonstrated by the publicly traded companies tracked by CATALOG AGE, many marketers are seeing business heat up too.

Hampstead, MD-based men’s apparel cataloger/retailer Jos. A. Bank Clothiers

(NasdaqNM: JOSB) posted a 23% rise in combined catalog and Internet sales in April. Total sales for the four-week period ended May 3 were $22.9 million, up 14% from $20.1 million for April 2002.

Dallas-based Neiman Marcus Group (NYSE: NMG.A), whose titles include Horchow and Chef’s Catalog, said sales increased 16% in its direct-to-customer segment for the four-week period ended May 3. The upscale cataloger/retailer said the women’s apparel and shoes, linens, and tabletop categories fueled the sales increase. Total company revenue for April increased 6%, to $240 million from $226 million last year.

High-tech gadgets cataloger/retailer Sharper Image (Nasdaq: SHRP) enjoyed a 17% increase in April sales, to $39.8 million from last year’s $34.1 million. The company says that its infomercial sales were affected by television coverage of the Iraq war, which in turn hurt catalog sales. Total catalog sales decreased 4%, to $11.6 million from the last April’s $12.1 million. But excluding infomercial revenue, catalog sales increased 20%. Internet sales increased 50%, to $6.2 million from $4.2 million. Total store sales increased 23%, to $22.0 million from $17.9 million; comparable store sales increased 11%.

New York-based online-only apparel discounter Bluefly (NadsaqSmallCap: BFLY) said April net sales increased 16%, to more than $2.6 million, from approximately $2.3 million last year.

And another New York-based apparel marketer, cataloger/retailer J. Crew, rode increased Web sales to top-line growth. Revenue for the four weeks ended May 3 was $57.7 million, up 5% from $54.8 million the previous April. Net sales for the direct division increased 11%, to $18.8 million from $17.0 million. But catalog sales fell 28%, to $5.5 million from $7.6 million. Comparable store sales decreased 4%.

At women’s lingerie marketer Victoria’s Secret Direct, which is owned by Columbus, OH-based Limited Brands, April sales were down 4% on reduced circulation. Internet sales continued to grow, however. Declines in bras and swimwear sales were partly offset by growth in panties. Total first-quarter sales at Victoria’s Secret Direct were $229.5 million, up 2% from last year. April sales at Hingham, MA-based The Talbots (NYSE: TLB) rose slightly, to $131.5 million for the four weeks ended May 3, compared with $130.1 million for April 2002. But comparable store sales decreased 7% for the month. Though it doesn’t release catalog sales figures for the month, the apparel cataloger/retailer did say that catalog sales for the first quarter fell 5%, to $65.8 million from $69.6 million last year.

At Plano, TX-based J.C. Penney Co. (NYSE: JCP), April catalog sales decreased 7%, to $175 million for the four weeks ended April 26. Internet sales, which are included in catalog revenue, increased more than 25% for both the month. Comparable department store sales decreased 7% from last April, when the company had enjoyed a 6% gain. Children’s apparel was the best-performing category, reflecting solid Easter apparel sales. Total April company sales fell 3%, to $2.40 billion from $2.46 billion last year.

Finally, Downers Grove, IL-based Spiegel Group, which mails the Eddie Bauer, Newport News, and Spiegel catalogs, reported that net sales fell 31%, to $115.6 million for the four weeks ended April 26. Last year, April sales totaled $167.0 million. The company also reported that comparable-store sales for its Eddie Bauer catalog/retail division dropped 16% for the four-week period.

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