September Sales Roundup: Mailers Take a Hit

Stamford, CT–The fallout from the events of Sept. 11 can be seen on the September sales reports from consumer marketers.

For instance, Downers Grove, IL-based cataloger/retailer The Spiegel Group, which mails the Eddie Bauer, Newport News, and Spiegel catalogs, reported a 12% decrease in September sales, to $226.0 million for the five weeks ended Sept. 29, from $257.1 million for September 2000. Catalog sales dropped 19%, but Spiegel’s Web business grew 27%. Breaking it up by division: sales declined 11% at Eddie Bauer, 1% at Newport News, and 21% at Spiegel. The company says sales from the Spiegel catalog were hurt by a week’s delay of some catalog mailings.

During the three weeks following the attacks, total sales at upscale cataloger/retailer The Neiman Marcus Group fell about 25% from sales the previous year. For the five weeks ended Sept. 29, total sales were $248.6 million, down 19% from the previous fiscal September. Within the Neiman Marcus Direct catalog division, which include the Neiman Marcus, Horchow, and Chef’s Catalog titles, sales declined 9%.

Cincinnati-based Federated Department Stores, which includes Bloomingdale’s By Mail,, and Fingerhut Cos., reported a 15% slide in September sales. Combined catalog and retail sales for the five weeks ended Oct. 6 were $1.40 billion, down from sales of $1.63 billion last year. Sales at its Fingerhut catalog subsidiary, which also includes the Arizona Mail Order, Bedford Fair, and Lew Magram titles, dropped 30%, to $107 million from $151 million, though some of that was due to planned circulation cuts.

Columbus, OH-based cataloger/retailer Intimate Brands, which mails the Victoria’s Secret catalog, reported an 8% net sales drop for the five weeks ended Oct. 6. Total net sales, including those from the Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works retail chains, totaled $316.2 million, compared with $345.2 million last year. What’s more, comparable store sales decreased 13%.

Hingham, MA-based cataloger/retailer The Talbots saw September sales decline 3% from a year ago, to $174.7 million from $179.5 million. Comparable store sales declined 8%. Despite the sales dip, the women’s apparel marketer still expects earnings per share of at least $0.57 in the third quarter, a penny above the current First Call consensus estimate.

Men’s apparel cataloger/retailer Jos. A. Bank bucked the trend by reporting an increase in overall September sales. The Hampstead, MD-based marketer reported total sales of $18.4 million for the month, up from $16.3 million last year. Catalog sales increased 15%, which the multichannel retailer attributes to creative and circulation changes. And Web sales jumped 166%.

And general merchandise cataloger/retailer J.C. Penney Co. said although its sales were initially hurt by the terrorist attacks, its department store sales recovered and were significantly above plan for the month. But September catalog sales were 28% below plan. Web sales, which are included in catalog sales, totaled $20 million in September, down from $25 million the previous September.

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