Holiday Sales Good News for Most

So Christmas has come and gone. How does your company stack up compared with the consumer catalogers tracked by CATALOG AGE?

Dallas-based Neiman Marcus Direct, which mails the Horchow, Neiman Marcus, and Chef’s Catalog titles, reported a 27% jump in sales for the fiscal month ended Jan. 3 . Sales at parent company Neiman Marcus (NYSE: NMG.A), which includes the upscale Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman stores, increased 15%, to $544 million.

Other luxury retailers did well too. New York-based jeweler Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF) enjoyed an 18% hike in holiday sales, to $601.1 million. Combined Web and catalog sales climbed 27%. Business sales declined 13%, reflecting the company’s previously announced decision to exit the market for employee service award programs. U.S. retail sales increased 19%, to $306.2 million.

San Francisco-based home decor and kitchenware cataloger/retailer Williams-Sonoma (NYSE: WSM), whose brands include Pottery Barn, PBTeen, Hold Everything, and West Elm, reported that direct-to-customer net sales climbed 29% for the eight weeks ended Dec. 28. Net revenue rose 17%.

Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters (Nasdaq: URBN) reported that direct-to-consumer sales leaped 122 % from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 due to what the company calls “strong growth at Anthropologie Direct and exceptional growth at Urban Outfitters Direct.”

Another San Francisco-based cataloger/retailer, high-tech gadgets marketer Sharper Image Corp. (NasdaqNM: SHRP), saw holiday catalog sales rise 20% while Internet sales skyrocketed 36%. Total company sales for December increased 30%.

Hampstead, MD-based men’s apparel cataloger/retailer Jos. A. Bank Clothiers (NasdaqNM: JOSB) said total December sales increased 33%, with combined catalog and Internet sales up 11%.

Fort Myers, FL-based women’s apparel cataloger/retailer Chico’s FAS (NYSE: CHS) said sales for fiscal December increased 61%, to $91 million from $56.5 million last year. But in a sales call, Chico’s said that its sales from its call center—which includes its Web and catalog businesses–fell 11%, to just under $2.1 million, due to what the company refers to as unusual demand last year for the “Oprah watch” that had been featured on Oprah Winfrey’s television show.

Plano, TX-based J.C. Penney Co.(NYSE: JCP) posted a 4% rise in comparable department store sales for the five weeks ended Dec. 27, the third consecutive year in which December sales increased more than 4%. The company also posted a nearly 6% gain in catalog/Internet sales.

Columbus, OH-based Limited Brands (NYSE: LTD), which mails the Victoria’s Secret catalog, posted a comparable-store sales increase of 6% for the five weeks ended Jan. 3. Sales at Victoria’s Secret Direct rose 10%.

Corte Madera, CA-based Restoration Hardware (Nasdaq: RSTO) saw net sales in its direct-to-consumer division jump 40% due to what president/CEO Gary Friedman termed strong customer demand and improved catalog response rates. The home furnishings company was disappointed in its same-store sales, however, which dropped 4%.

Some marketers got the financial equivalent of coal in their stockings. For instance, Hingham, MA-based cataloger/retailer The Talbots (NYSE: TLB) reported that total company sales for the five weeks ended Jan. 3 fell 1%, to $200.1 million. Although the apparel marketer did not break out monthly catalog sales data it did mention in a sales call that low inventory levels significantly affected its catalog business.

Then there’s the continuing saga of Downers Grove, IL-based Spiegel Group, which mails the Eddie Bauer, Newport News, and Spiegel catalogs. Its December sales plummeted 33%, to $249.2 million for the five weeks ended Dec. 28. Comparable-store sales for its Eddie Bauer division fell 3%. Spiegel’s catalog and Web sales plunged 42% due to what the company described as lower customer demand and a planned reduction in catalog circulation.

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