For most marketers, November sales figures can be summed up in one word: Ouch. For instance, sales at Downers Grove, IL-based The Spiegel Group (Nasdaq: SPGLA), which mails the Eddie Bauer, Newport News, and Spiegel catalogs, fell 17%, to $255.2 million from $306.7 million the previous November. Catalog sales plunged 27%, while sales at the Eddie Bauer’s retail chain decreased 12%. Breaking it down by division, November sales at apparel marketer Eddie Bauer declined 15%, apparel cataloger Newport News saw sales fall 17%, and the Spiegel general merchandise catalog division suffered a 21% sales decline. About the only growth at Spiegel was within its Web business; revenue increased 15%.
Columbus, OH-based Intimate Brands (NYSE: IBI), parent company of women’s apparel cataloger/retailer Victoria’s Secret, reported that net sales for the four weeks ended Dec. 1 were $448.6 million, down 7% from $413.6 million for the comparable period of last year. Catalog sales fell 6%, but comparable store sales were up 9%, due to the televised Victoria’s Secret fashion show. Nonetheless, Intimate Brands—which also includes cataloger/retailer Bath and Body Works–said it remains comfortable with the current fourth-quarter consensus earnings estimate of $0.44.
Another women’s apparel cataloger/retailer reporting less-than-stellar November sales was Hingham, MA-based The Talbots (NYSE: TLB). Total company sales for the four weeks ended Dec. 1 were $118.3 million, down 9% from $129.6 million for November 2000. In a statement, chairman/president/CEO Arnold B. Zetcher said, “Our November comparable store sales were in line with our post-Sept. 11 expectations, decreasing 12% for the month vs, a very strong 21.9% increase last year.”
Plano, TX-based general merchandiser J. C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) also took it on the chin in November. The cataloger/retailer saw catalog and Web sales plummet 32%, to $295 million from $431 million a year ago, which Penney says reflects the elimination of catalog participation in retail promotional events. Total company sales decreased 3%, from $2.85 billion for the four weeks ended Nov. 24.
Looking on the brighter side of the situation, San Francisco-based The Sharper Image (Nasdaq: SHRP) reported an improvement in sales trends since Thanksgiving. Still, November sales for the gadgets marketer decreased 18%, to $42.9 million from $52.0 million last year. Catalog sales decreased 19%, to $12.7 million from $15.7 million. Websales slid 35%, to $6.0 million from $9.2 million, and comparable store sales tumbled 20%. “Despite the impact of last year’s Razor Scooter sales,” founder/chairman/CEO Richard Thalheimer said in a statement, “in early December we are seeing comparable store sales approaching last year’s level, which is encouraging both for the rest of the holiday period and next year.”
However, there were a few bright spots. Bargain shoppers apparently flocked to New York-based Bluefly (Nasdaq SmallCap: BFLY), which discounts apparel and gifts up to 75%. Bluefly posted a 33% rise in November sales, to about $2.4 million from $1.8 million last year.
Hampstead, MD-based men’s apparel cataloger/retailer Jos. A. Bank Clothiers (Nasdaq: JOSB) enjoyed a 7% rise in sales, to $22.2 million from $20.9 million a year ago. In fact, Bank expects fourth-quarter 2001 net income to be up at least 10% from last year’s, which would result in record earnings per share of at least $0.85 for fiscal year 2001. Bank’s catalog sales increased 4%, while its Web sales soared 95%. Comparable store sales decreased 6%.
And New York-based cataloger/retailer J. Crew benefited from a slight uptick in sales, to $86.2 million from $85.9 million last year. Net sales for the direct division decreased 14%, however.