Fourth Quarter Drags Talbots Sales Down

A poor fourth-quarter performance hurt the annual sales of women’s apparel and accessories merchant The Talbots.

Net sales were $1.21 billion for the fiscal year ended Jan. 29, down slightly from $1.23 billion the prior year. For the fourth quarter, net sales decreased 7.4% to $292.6 million, compared to $315.9 million in the same period last year.

Talbots said in a statement in mid-January that its holiday sales had been trending up, but despite enhanced online and offline promotions, “deteriorated” in the last two weeks of December into January.

Direct sales helped the cataloger/retailer during the first three months of the fiscal year, but were weak in the fourth quarter.

For the year, Talbots’ direct revenue increased 6.7% to $221.7 million, compared to $207.7 million last year. But in the fourth quarter, direct sales decreased 5.3% in the quarter to $51.8 million, compared to $54.7 million in the same period last year.

President/CEO Trudy F. Sullivan said in a statement the company has already begun to take steps at addressing the direct marketing and in-store plunges.

“We believe merchandise styling in our catalog that was pushed too far forward for our core customer, and the initial allocation of product in the early implementation of our store segmentation strategy, were additional factors impacting store traffic,” Sullivan said.