Charming Shoppes Expects Bigger 3Q Loss, Others Report September Sales Off

Faced with slumping sales due to a weak economy, specialty and women’s plus-size clothing merchant Charming Shoppes expects to post a loss of 35 to 37 cents per share for the third quarter of 2008, down about 23% from its prior estimate of nine cents to 11 cents per share.

The company now expects to report net sales in the range of $535 million to $545 million for the quarter ending Nov. 3, compared to net sales of $599.7 million last year.

“We are today announcing a material revision to our sales and earnings outlook as a result of a series of decisive actions we are taking in response to the increasingly challenging environment in which we are currently operating,” said Alan Rosskamm, interim CEO/chairman, in a statement. “Third quarter-to-date, we are experiencing sales performance which is considerably lower than planned.”

Charming Shoppes is exploring the sale of its Figi’s Gifts in Good Taste catalog business. The company is expected to release its third quarter earnings on Nov. 25.

September Sales Off at Neiman Marcus
High-end apparel, jewelry and home decor merchant Neiman Marcus reported sales of $415 million for the five weeks ended Oct. 4 – a drop of 11.1% compared to the same period last year, when the company reported sales of $466 million.

Same-store sales decreased 12.9%, to $406 million, compared with $466 million for the same period last year. Same-store sales for the company’s specialty retail stores segment, which includes Neiman Marcus Stores and Bergdorf Goodman, decreased 15.8%.>

Sales at Neiman Marcus Direct increased 5.3%, driven mainly by sales in women’s shoes and men’s/women’s apparel.

Same-store Sales Fall at J.C. Penney
J.C. Penney Co. has slashed its earnings estimates after experiencing a worse-than-expected 12.4% drop in September same-store sales.

The company had initially forecast a decrease in same store sales to mid- to high-single digits for the five-week period ended Oct. 4. Last September’s same-store sales decreased 3.7%.

Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, III, chairman/CEO for J.C. Penney, attributed the drop in sales to “further weakening of the economic climate” and the “unprecedented events in the financial markets.”

“As a result, our business was impacted by falling consumer confidence and spending levels, and mall traffic experienced an even greater decline than in previous months,” he said in a statement.

Sales Down at Nordstrom
High-end apparel, accessories, jewelry, cosmetics, fragrances and home furnishings merchant Nordstrom Inc. reported preliminary sales of $718 million for the five-week period ended Oct. 4, 2008 — a decrease of 5.8% compared to sales of $762 million for the same period in 2007. Same-store sales decreased 9.6%.

Preliminary quarter-to-date sales of $1.28 billion decreased 5.1%, compared to sales of $1.34 billion during the same period in 2007. Quarter-to-date same-store sales decreased 8.9%.

Preliminary year-to-date sales of $5.44 billion decreased 4.3% compared to sales of $5.69 billion for the same period in 2007. Year-to-date same-store sales decreased 6.8%.

The company now expects third quarter same-store sales to decrease 9% to 11% — compared to the 4% to 6% decrease it expected at the end of the second quarter. Third quarter earnings per share are expected to be $0.32 to $0.37, below the prior outlook of $0.49 to $0.54.

Nordstrom will update its fourth quarter and full-year guidance on Nov. 13 upon releasing its third quarter earnings.

Saks Sees Sales Slump
Retailer Saks reports sales of $273.2 million for the five weeks ended Oct. 4, an 11.1% decrease from the $307.4 million reported for the same period in 2007. Same store sales decreased 10.9%.

For the two-month period ended Oct. 4, sales totaled $473.7 million, a 9.1% decrease from the $520.9 million reported for the same two-month period last year. Same store sales decreased 8.9% for the two-month period.

For the eight months ended Oct. 4, sales totaled $1.9 billion, a 0.1% decrease compared to the prior year. Same-store sales decreased 0.3% for the same eight-month period.

The company expects that same-store sales for the second half of the fiscal year will fall below its previous expectation of flat to a low-single digit decline.

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