October Sales Roundup

Finally, some good news – sort of. October sales weren’t quite as bad as September’s for the companies tracked by Multichannel Merchant. But marketers are still posting monthly declines.

Total October sales for apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch dropped 5%, to $203.4 million, compared to $215.0 million in October 2008. On a much brighter side, direct-to-consumer sales jumped 24%, to $22.0 million. October same-store sales decreased 15%.

Neiman Marcus Direct’s sales for October slipped 4.8%. The division consists of the print catalog and online operations for Neiman Marcus and Horchow, as well as the Bergdorf Goodman Website. The top selling merchandise categories in the direct marketing segment included women’s contemporary apparel and dresses, beauty and shoes.

Meanwhile, October sales at women’s apparel marketer Victoria’s Secret Direct dropped 7%.

And total October company sales for J.C. Penney Co. fell 4.5%, to $1.31 billion.

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October Sales Roundup

For the most part, October sales were solid for the publicly traded companies tracked by Multichannel Merchant.

October direct sales for J.C. Penney Co. decreased 3.8%, to $231 million compared with $240 million in October 2006. Internet sales for the Plano, TX-based general merchant rose 8.7%. Total company sales inched up 0.3%, to $1.54 billion, up from $1.53 billion last year. Same-store sales fell 1.8%. Company officials said in a release that same-store sales rose 8.7% and direct sales 11.8% in September 2006, “representing one of the most difficult comparisons of the year.”

Meanwhile, Dallas-based luxury merchant Neiman Marcus Group reported a 12% rise in October sales for Neiman Marcus Direct, which consists of the print catalog and online operations for Neiman Marcus and Horchow as well as the Bergdorf Goodman Website. Total October revenue for the cataloger/retailer increased nearly 11%, to $383 million.

October was another strong month for Hampstead, MD-based Jos. A. Bank Clothiers. The merchant’s sales for the month increased 8.7%, to $47.5 million, up from $43.7 million in October 2006. Direct sales for the menswear cataloger/retailer increased nearly 3%, while same-store sales rose 1.8%.

Sales at Victoria’s Secret Direct fell victim to problems associated with opening its new distribution center in August. After sales plunged 64% in August, due to shipping delays, Victoria’s Secret Direct rebounded in September as revenue grew 27%. Its October sales rose 5%. During a conference call Amie Preston, vice president of investor relations for Columbus, OH-based parent company Limited Brands, said October sales were driven by “record-breaking redemptions of a $25 off apology offer that was sent to customers who were adversely affected by the DC operational issues.”

And then there’s San Francisco-based Sharper Image Corp. October sales at the electronic gifts merchant sunk 32%, to $25.9 million, compared to $38.1 million in September 2006. Same-store sales decreased 8%. The company did not break out specific figures for catalog/direct marketing (including wholesale) and Internet sales.

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October Sales Roundup

If fall sales can predict holiday results, then four of the five publicly traded companies tracked by MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT are in store for a profitable Christmas. All of the companies performed admirably in October, with the exception of Sharper Image Corp., as its sales continued to sink. Even Sharper Image, though, had reason to cheer: For the second straight month, the company’s catalog/direct marketing sales produced an increase in year-over-year results.

At upscale apparel and decor mailer Neiman Marcus Direct, which includes the Horchow and Neiman Marcus titles, October sales increased 12%, as they had the previous October. Dallas-based parent company Neiman Marcus Group boasted a 10% jump in total October revenue, to $351 million for the four weeks ended Oct. 28.

October direct sales for Plano, TX-based J.C. Penney Co. increased 2%, which was in line with the company’s initial guidance and an improvement from last October’s 3% decrease. Total direct sales for the four weeks ended Oct. 28 were $240 million. Internet sales rose approximately 26%, besting last October’s increase of 20%. Department store sales increased 11%, to nearly $1.3 billion, with comparable store sales up 8%. Total company sales climbed 9.5%, to $1.53 billion.

Hampstead, MD-based men’s apparel cataloger/retailer Jos. A. Bank Clothiers recorded a 10% increase in combined catalog and Internet sales for October. Total October sales soared 18%, to $29.6 million. Comparable store sales checked in with an 8% increase.

At women’s apparel merchant Victoria’s Secret Direct, combined Internet and catalog sales for October rose 20%, exceeding company expectations. Columbus, OH-based parent company Limited Brands reported a 10% increase in overall October sales, to $694.8 million. Comparable store sales increased 9%. In addition to Victoria’s Secret, Limited Brands includes the Express and Bath & Body Work retail chains.

October sales at San Francisco-based electronic gifts merchant Sharper Image fell 17%, to $38.1 million. But for the month ended Oct. 31, catalog/direct marketing sales (including wholesale) increased 2%, to $14.0 million, although Internet sales decreased 12%, to $5.7 million. Comparable store sales tumbled 31%.

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October Sales Roundup

If October sales from the publicly traded cataloger/retailers tracked by MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT are a harbinger of holiday sales, some merchants will be singing of a blue Christmas.

The winner for October was men’s apparel merchant Jos. A. Bank Clothiers (NasdaqNM: JOSB). The catalog/Internet division of the Hampstead, MD-based company grew October sales 20%. Total company sales jumped 29%, to $37.0 million for the month ended Oct. 29 from $28.8 million in October 2004. Comparable store sales increased 16%.

Dallas-based luxury merchant Neiman Marcus Group posted a 12% gain in year-over-year sales for its direct unit, which includes the Horchow and Neiman Marcus catalogs. Total October sales jumped 6%, to $325 million for the month ended Oct. 29.

At Hingham, MA-based apparel cataloger/retailer The Talbots (NYSE: TLB), October sales increased 3%, to $147.3 million from $143.1 million. Comparable store sales decreased 0.3% for the month.

Victoria’s Secret Direct, part of Columbus, OH-based Limited Brands (NYSE: LTD), had flat October sales. For the company as a whole, October net sales decreased 1%, to $629.0 million, with comparable store sales down 4%.

The direct unit for Plano, TX-based general merchant J.C. Penney Co. (NYSE: JCP) saw October sales drop 3%, to $235 million from $242 million last year. Web sales climbed more than 20% in October, “while print catalog sales, as expected, continued their lower trend,” according to a release. Total Penney revenue for October increased 2%, to $1.40 billion from $1.38 billion last year.

And the troubles continue for San Francisco-based high-tech gifts merchant Sharper Image (NasdaqNM: SHRP). Direct marketing sales (including wholesale) plummeted 41%, to $13.5 million for October, compared with $22.8 million for October 2004. Year-over-year Internet sales fell 22%, to $6.5 million. Total Sharper Image sales for the month tumbled 24%, to $45.9 million, with comparable store sales down 18%.

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October Sales Roundup

If October catalog sales are any indication, most of the publicly traded cataloger/retailers tracked by CATALOG AGE have reason to be optimistic for the crucial holiday season.

Take San Francisco-based gadgets cataloger/retailer Sharper Image (Nasdaq: SHRP). Its October direct revenue increased 47%, to $17.8 million from last October’s $12.1 million. Internet sales increased 34%, to $7.0 million. Comparable-store sales increased 12%, while total store sales rose 28%, to $25.6 million. Overall sales for the month were $50.5 million, up 35% from last October’s $37.4 million.

Catalog and Web sales at home furnishings marketer Restoration Hardware (Nasdaq: RSTO) increased a whopping 46%. That follows last year’s 66% increase in direct sales. “Sales from the initial mailing of our holiday catalogs are exceeding our expectations,” president/CEO Gary Friedman said in a statement. Third-quarter sales for the Corte Madera, CA-based company increased 6%, to $95.8 million for the three months ended Nov. 1, compared with $90.8 million last year. Comparable-store sales increased 3%. While the quarter’s total sales and comparable-store sales were lower than anticipated, demand from orders not yet delivered increased $8.8 million in the quarter.

October catalog and Internet sales at men’s apparel marketer Jos. A. Bank Clothiers (NasdaqNM: JOSB) increased 27%. Combined direct and retail sales for the four weeks ended Nov. 1 were a record $27.0 million, up 22% from last year. Comparable-store sales increased 5%.

Dallas-based The Neiman Marcus Group (NYSE:NMG.A), which mails the Horchow, Neiman Marcus, and Chef’s Catalog titles, enjoyed a 15% increase in October direct sales. Combined retail and direct sales for the quarter ended Nov. 3 were $272 million, up 10% from the comparable quarter of 2002.

Hingham, MA-based apparel cataloger/retailer The Talbots (NYSE: TLB) had less success to report. Total company sales for the four weeks ended Nov. 1 were $137.9 million, up 2% from October 2002’s $135.2 million. Comparable-store sales, meanwhile, decreased 8% for the month. Talbots does not break out monthly catalog sales.

October catalog/Internet sales at Plano, TX-based J.C. Penney Co. (NYSE: JCP) inched up a scant 0.4%, to $238 million from $237 million last year. Internet sales alone, however, increased more than 30% for the month. Total company sales fell 0.9%, to $2.51 billion.

Finally, October catalog and e-commerce sales at Chapter 11-mired Spiegel Group, which mails the Eddie Bauer, Newport News, and Spiegel titles, decreased 31%. Total sales fell 25%, to $129.5 million from $171.9 million last October. The company was operating 18% fewer stores than it had last year, with most of the store closings a result of the company’s ongoing reorganization.

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October sales roundup

The days become shorter and cooler in October, the leaves start to fall off the trees, and catalog sales start to pick up in anticipation of the holidays. At least that’s what catalogers hope for. But this year several publicly traded catalogers reported disappointing October sales.

To quote Burton M. Tansky, president/CEO of Dallas-based cataloger/retailer Neiman Marcus (NYSE: NMG.A), “During October, we experienced strong demand for several of our key merchandise categories. However, in total, sales results were lower than expected.” October revenue within the upscale marketer’s NM Direct division, which includes the Horchow, Neiman Marcus, and Chef’s Catalog titles, was down 4% from last year.

There was a mitigating factor, though: NM Direct’s results reflected quarterly adjustments for sales returns and the deferral of revenue for merchandise shipped but not yet received. Excluding these adjustments, comparable revenue at NM Direct actually increased nearly 9%. Total revenue at Neiman Marcus increased 3%, to $246 million from $239 million last year.

Neiman Marcus’s disappointments don’t amount to a hill of bean compared to the sales declines at Downers Grove, IL-based Spiegel Group (OTC: SPGLA). October direct sales declined 29%, while combined catalog and retail revenue fell 21%, to $171.9 million for the four weeks ended Oct. 26. The company attributes much of the sales decline to a reduction in catalog pages circulated for its Newport News women’s apparel book and general merchandise Spiegel Catalog. Then too, the company has implemented more-stringent credit-card requirements in response to unsatisfactorily high defaults within Spiegel’s private-label credit-card business. Breaking it down by division, sales at apparel and home goods cataloger/retailer Eddie Bauer fell 9%, sales for Newport News tumbled 25%, and sales for Spiegel Catalog dropped 42%.

Catalog sales at another general merchandise cataloger/retailer, Plano, TX-based J.C. Penney Corp. (NYSE: JCP), decreased 22%, to $237 million for the four weeks ended Oct. 26. But Penney said the decline was in line with projections and resulted from undisclosed circulation cuts. Total October sales for Penney were up 5%, to $2.5 billion. Comparable department store sales increased 14%, significantly above plan, which the company credits to planned marketing events and seasonal weather that encouraged shopping.

New York-based apparel cataloger/retailer J. Crew reported an 11% rise in October sales, to $71.1 million for the four weeks ended Nov. 2. Furthermore, Internet sales rose 19%, to $13.4 million from $11.2 million the previous October. Even comparable store sales rose, by nearly 1%. But catalog sales fell 18%, to $9.4 million from $11.5 last year.

Finally, San Francisco-based cataloger/retailer The Sharper Image (Nasdaq: SHRP) posted double-digit revenue gains for all of its sales channels. For the four weeks ended Oct. 31, catalog sales were $12.1 million, up 22% from last October’s $9.9 million. Internet sales increased 42%, to $5.3 million from $3.7 million last year. Total store sales increased 35%, to $20.0 million; comparable store sales increased 23%. Total company sales for October increased 32%, to $37.3 million.

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October Sales Roundup

Stamford, CT–With jittery consumers staying out of the malls and wary of anthrax in the mail stream, it’s little surprise that many publicly traded cataloger/retailers reported disappointing sales figures for October.

Among the hardest hit was San Francisco-based gadgets cataloger/retailer Sharper Image (Nasdaq: SHRP). Its October sales decreased 19%, to $28.4 million from $34.9 million last year. Catalog sales decreased 10%, to $9.9 million from $10.9 million, and Internet sales decreased 32%, to $3.7 million from $5.4 million. Store sales decreased 20%, to $14.8 million from $18.6 million.

Downers Grove, IL-based The Spiegel Group, which mails the Eddie Bauer, Newport News, and Spiegel catalogs, also felt the pinch. For the four weeks ended Oct. 27, sales were $217.9 million, down 7% from $234.1 million last October. Spiegel’s Web business increased 47%, which offset a 14% decrease in catalog sales. But total direct sales declined 5%, while retail store sales decreased 9%. Comparable-store sales for Eddie Bauer decreased 19%. Sales in the Newport News and Spiegel divisions declined 12% and 7%.

October catalog sales at Plano, TX-based cataloger/retailerJ.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) decreased 11%, from $342 million last year to $303 million. Web sales, which are included in catalog, totaled $37 million, compared to $30 million last October. Total company sales inched up to $2.40 billion from $2.39 billion a year ago. Penney attributes soft sales the week beginning Oct. 7 to consumer preoccupation with the U.S. military actions, but sales rebounded in the last two weeks of the month.

At Columbus, OH-based Intimate Brands (NYSE: IBI), which mails the Victoria’s Secret catalog, net sales rose less than 2%, to $291.1 million from $286.6 million last year. The company did not break out catalog sales.

Total sales at New York-based apparel cataloger/retailer J. Crew declined 6%, to $65.9 million for the four weeks ended Nov. 3. Catalog sales increased less than 1%, to $11.5 million from $10.9 a year ago. Comparable store sales declined 21% mainly because of reduced mall traffic.

Hampstead, MD-based cataloger/retailer Jos. A. Bank Clothiers (NASDAQ: JOSB) enjoyed a 15% rise in October sales, to $20.0 million for the month ended Nov. 3. Internet sales soared 107% for the month; at the same time, catalog sales decreased 18%. Comparable store sales rose 7% for the month and 4.3% for the quarter. “Some of our Internet sales are a result of the migration of customers from our catalog business,” CEO Robert N. Wildrick said in a statement. “We reduced our catalog circulation, which has enabled both the catalog and Internet to increase profitability this quarter. We expect to continue this trend into the fourth quarter.”

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