For many mass retailers, April was indeed a cruel month, with companies such as AnnTaylor, Dillard’s Department Stores, the Gap, and Kohl’s posting year-over-year sales declines. But for most of the publicly traded companies tracked by MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT, the results weren’t quite as bad. But for the most part, they weren’t all that great either.
For instance, April sales at Victoria’s Secret Direct increased 2%, short of company expectations. Columbus, OH-based parent company Limited Brands reported a 1% decrease in overall April sales, to $688.0 million. In addition to women’s apparel merchant Victoria’s Secret, Limited Brands owns the Express retail chain and cataloger/retailer Bath & Body Works.
What’s more, vice president of investor relations Amy Preston for Limited said in a conference call that the company’s April merchandise margin rates were down significantly from last year “and below expectations, driven by unplanned promotions, which were implemented in response to slow traffic trends.”
Dallas-based luxury merchant Neiman Marcus Group reported a 2% jump in April sales for Neiman Marcus Direct, which consists of the print catalog and online operations for Neiman Marcus and Horchow as well as the Bergdorf Goodman Website. That’s significantly less than the 10% rise in year-over-year sales the division enjoyed in March. Total April revenue for the cataloger/retailer rose 3%, to $346 million.
April direct sales for J.C. Penney Co. took another step backward. After a 1% decline in March, April direct sales fell 8%, to $185 million from $201 million last year. Officials at the Plano, TX-based general merchandiser said direct sales “continue to be impacted by softness in home categories, which represent a large portion of the direct channel’s volume.”
On a positive note, Penney’s April Web sales rose 15%. April department-store sales, however decreased 3%, to $1.13 billion, and same-store sales declined 4.7%. Total April sales fell 3.5%, to $1.32 billion.
And the beat goes on at San Francisco-based Sharper Image Corp. April sales at the electronic gifts merchant fell 36%, to $21.3 million. Catalog/direct marketing sales (including wholesale) plummeted 69%, to $3.6 million from $11.5 million in April 2006. Internet sales declined 40%, to $3.2 million, and same-store sales decreased 11%.
It wasn’t all gray skies, however. April sales for Hampstead, MD-based Jos. A. Bank Clothiers rose 18.5%, to $45.5 million. The menswear cataloger/retailer posted a robust 30% rise in April direct sales, while same-store sales increased 7%.
And at Vernon Hills, IL-based computer products reseller CDW Corp., April sales increased nearly 29%, to $621.0 million. Average daily sales in April rose 23%, to nearly $29.6 million.