For example, Hampstead, MD-based men’s apparel cataloger/retailer Jos. A Bank (NasdaqNM: JOSB) said its combined catalog and Internet sales increased 34% for the month ended Dec. 31. Total net sales also increased 34% to $91.1 million, compared with $68.0 million. Comparable store sales increased 21%.
December direct sales at Victoria’s Secret Direct, part of Columbus, OH-based Limited Brands (NYSE: LTB), jumped 17%, which was above company expectations. The direct division’s plan to drive sales closer to holiday, such as a free shipping upgrade to second day air, evidently proved successful. Total company net sales increased 5% to $1.911 billion for the five weeks ended Dec. 31, compared to net sales of $1.815 billion last year.
Dallas-based Neiman Marcus Direct (NYSE: NMG.A), which includes the print and online operations of Horchow, Neiman Marcus, and Bergdorf Goodman brands, reported a 25% increase in sales for the period ended Dec. 31. The top-selling merchandise categories in the direct marketing segment included jewelry, shoes, handbags, and women’s apparel. The specialty retail segment, which includes Neiman Marcus Stores and Bergdorf Goodman, increased 5%.
December direct-to-consumer sales rose 24% at Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters (NasdaqNM: URBN), the parent company of the Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, and Free People brands. The Free People wholesale segment surged 119%. Gift card sales during the holiday jumped 50% compared with last year. December comparable sales grew 6%, compared with a 15% growth for the same period last year. “Holiday sales at our Free People and Urban Outfitters stores were robust but Anthropologie store sales, while ‘comp’ positive, were below plan,” said chairman/president Richard A. Hayne in a statement.
Indeed, some marketers reported more modest gains. Plano, TX-based general merchant J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) saw a 4% increase in catalog/Internet sales to $417 million for the five weeks ended Dec. 31, compared with $400 million last year, which was slightly ahead of its previous guidance. Sales for jcpenney.com increased approximately 26% in December. Total J.C. Penney sales increased 1% to $3.25 billion, compared with $3.15 billion last year.
Hingham, MA-based cataloger/retailer of classic women’s apparel The Talbots (NYSE: TLB) reported total company sales increased 3% to $222.8 million for the five weeks ended Dec. 31, compared with $217.3 million last year. Comparable store sales increased 1% for the month. Talbots does not release catalog sales data in its monthly sales releases.
And some merchants, such as high-tech gifts cataloger/retailer Sharper Image (Nasdaq: SHRP), would have been happy with any gains. For the month ended Dec. 31, total catalog sales/direct marketing sales fell 26% to $16.9 million, compared with last December’s $23.0 million. Internet sales fell 10% to $27.2 million compared to last December’s $24.8 million. Total company sales fell 9% to $150.2 million compared with $164.3 million last year. Total store sales were $106.1 million compared to $116.5 million in the prior December, a decrease of 9%. Comparable store sales in December tumbled 15%.