Like the weather, March sales for the publicly traded catalogers tracked by CATALOG AGE were unpredictable.
High-tech gadgets cataloger/retailer Sharper Image (Nasdaq: SHRP) enjoyed a 42% increase in March catalog sales, to $12.2 million from $8.5 million last year. Internet sales also increased 42%, to $5.7 million from $4.0 million. Total March sales for the San Francisco-based company increased 37%, to $41.1 million, while comparable store sales increased 20%.
Men’s apparel cataloger/retailer Jos. A. Bank Clothiers (Nasdaq NM: JOSB) had sales of $23.9 million for the month ended April 5. That’s up 12% from fiscal March 2002. Combined catalog and Internet sales rose 4%, and comparable store sales increased 2%.
Apparel cataloger/retailer The Talbots (NYSE:TLB) posted a 6% increase in March sales, to $187.1 million for the five weeks ended April 5. According to Arnold Zetcher, chairman/president/CEO of the Hingham, MA-based marketer, the increase began with the mailing of Talbots main spring catalog in early March, “which helped to drive customers into our stores, and the response to our new spring merchandise in both catalog and stores was favorable throughout the period.” Comparable store sales increased 1% for the month.
At Neiman Marcus Direct, which includes the Neiman Marcus, Horchow, and Chef’s Catalog titles, comparable revenue increased 13%. But comparable revenue in Neiman Marcus’s specialty retail stores segment, which includes Neiman Marcus Stores and Bergdorf Goodman, decreased 3%. Total revenue increased 2%, to $274 million.
Plano, TX-based J.C. Penney Co. (NYSE: JCP) reported a 13% drop in March catalog sales, to $238 million from $274 million last year. Total company sales decreased 4%, to $2.8 billion from $3.0 billion last March. Comparable department store sales decreased 5% for the five weeks ended March 29.
While Penney says sales for the first nine weeks of the quarter have been below plan and warns that first-quarter revenue will likely be lower than originally anticipated, the company does have some good news: Internet sales, which are included in catalog sales, increased 19%.
March sales at apparel cataloger/retailer J. Crew fell 1%, to $58.2 million for the five weeks ended April 5. Net sales for the New York-based marketer’s direct division were flat; comparable store sales for the retail division decreased 8%.
Net sales at Downers Grove, IL-based Spiegel Group fell 28%, to $157.8 million for the five weeks ended March 29. Last March, net sales totaled $217.8 million. Net catalog and e-commerce sales dropped 36%, due to lower customer demand as well as a planned reduction in circulation. The company also believes that sales were hurt by the company’s decision in early March to cease honoring the private-label credit cards issued by First Consumers National Bank to customers of its Eddie Bauer, Newport News, and Spiegel brands.