Aside from continuing fiscal woes at Sharper Image Corp. and a disappointing month for The Talbots last month represented a strong showing for direct sales and overall revenue growth among the publicly traded cataloger/retailers tracked by MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT.
At upscale apparel and decor merchant Neiman Marcus Direct, February sales increased nearly 9% for the four-week period ended Feb. 25. The top-selling merchandise categories included jewelry, women’s apparel, and shoes. Overall February sales for the Dallas-based parent, Neiman Marcus Group (NYSE: NMG.A), increased 6%, to $291 million.
February sales at Victoria’s Secret Direct rose 10%, which company officials said exceeded expectations. Parent company Limited Brands (NYSE: LTD) reported a 4% increase in February sales, to $635.8 million.
Hampstead, MD-based men’s apparel cataloger/retailer Jos. A. Bank Clothiers (NasdaqNM: JOSB) posted a healthy 38% increase in its combined catalog and Internet sales for fiscal February. Total February sales increased 18%, to $33.8 million for the four weeks ended Feb. 25.
Plano, TX-based J.C. Penney Co. (NYSE: JCP) posted a 4.5% rise in direct sales, which exceeded expectations for the four weeks ended Feb. 25. February Internet sales increased 24%. Direct sales totaled $209 million for the month. Total company sales increased 4%, to $1.3 billion.
February net sales at apparel merchant The Talbots (NYSE: TLB) decreased 2%, to $91.4 million for the four weeks ended Feb. 25. Comparable store sales fell 6% for the month. The Hingham, MA-based cataloger/retailer does not break out monthly catalog sales data.
In a statement, president/CEO Arnold B. Zetcher said sales trends at the beginning of February were on plan, but total comparable store sales results were “significantly” hurt by a major snowstorm that swept across much of the country. “The geographical areas that were not affected by adverse weather turned in near-plan performances,” Zetcher said. “Further, a change in the timing of promotional activities vs. last year also had an unfavorable impact on our business during the month. We did see a return to positive selling trends in the latter part of February; however, it was not enough to offset the earlier softness.”
Year-over-year sales at San Francisco-based Sharper Image Corp. (NasdaqNM: SHRP) continue to plummet. For the month ended Feb. 28, net sales at the electronics cataloger/retailer were $30.5 million, down 33% from $45.4 million in February 2005. Total catalog/direct marketing sales (including wholesale) sunk 45%, to $6.7 million, compared with last February’s $12.2 million; Internet sales dropped 32%, to $4.7 million.
Chairman/CEO Richard Thalmeier said in a statement: “In response to our recent trends, we have cut expenses, accelerated new product testing and development, and further reduced our advertising spend, particularly in our direct marketing channels. In the near term, we expect our reduced advertising to contribute to continued lower year-over-year sales results. Our focus continues to be the introduction of new and innovative products, the optimization of advertising expenditures, and to lower expenses and inventory levels.”