Direct Units Lead Way for September sales

September catalog sales ranged from the double–digit gains from San Francisco-based gadgets marketer Sharper Image to more modest sales increases from the likes of Plano, TX-based general merchant J.C. Penney.

In fact, top line increases occurred in each direct unit of the publicly traded cataloger/retailers tracked by Catalog Age. And in some cases, such as Victoria’s Secret Direct, catalog percentage increases outpaced that of the entire company.

For example, total catalog/direct marketing sales for The Sharper Image (Nasdaq: SHRP) increased 28% to $14.9 million for the month ended Sept. 30, compared to $11.6 million last year. Internet sales increased 19% to $6.5 million from last September’s $5.5 million. Total company sales increased 21% to $46.4 million from last September’s $38.4 million; Total store sales increased 18% to $25.0 million from last September’s $21.2 million.

September sales at Hampstead, MD-based men’s clothier Jos. A. Bank Clothiers (Nasdaq NM: JOSB) increased 16% to $32.1 million for the month ended Oct. 2, compared with $27.7 million last year. Combined catalog and Internet sales increased 9%. Comparable store sales increased 3.9%.

Direct sales at women’s intimate apparel marketer Victoria’s Secret, part of Columbus, OH-based Limited Brands (NYSE: LTD), increased 9% for the month ending Oct. 2. Overall sales at Limited Brands fell 5% to $679.3 million, compared with $714.4 million last year, due to softness in apparel and a shift in clearance inventory.

Six was the magic number for Dallas-based Neiman Marcus (NYSE: NMG.A). September sales for Neiman Marcus Direct, which includes the Horchow, Neiman Marcus, and Chef’s Catalog titles, increased 6%; the company’s retail unit’s sales were up 6% as well for September, while overall sales for the month also increased 6% , to $366 million compared with $344 million last year.

Other companies reported more modest sales. Combined catalog/Internet sales at Plano, TX-based cataloger/retailer J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) increased 3%, to $253 million for the month ended Oct. 2, compared with $245 million last year. Total monthly sales reached $1.50 billion, a 2% increase from $1.47 billion in total sales reported last year.

Total September sales for apparel marketer Talbots (NYSE: TLB) increased 3% to $187.5 million for the five weeks ended Oct. 2, compared with $182.5 million for the period last year. Comparable store sales decreased 1.3% for the month. The company does not break out catalog sales in its monthly sales releases. In a release, Talbots said it was being more cautious in its financial guidance for the fourth quarter because of weaker sales trends in apparel.

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