September Sales Roundup

The end of summer brought no reprieve in soft sales, judging by September’s financial results for the companies tracked by Multichannel Merchant.

Total September sales for apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch dropped 10%, to $248.2 million, compared to $275.4 million in September 2008. On the bright side, direct-to-consumer sales jumped 9%, to $22.8 million. September same-store sales decreased 18%.

Neiman Marcus Direct’s sales for September slipped 13.6%. 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, September sales at women’s apparel marketer Victoria’s Secret Direct dropped 3%.

Total September company sales for J.C. Penney Co. fell less than 1%, to $1.44 billion. The general merchant no longer reports its direct sales results.

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September Sales Roundup

For the most part, September was a perfect example of the country’s economic woes at work. Just take a look at the month’s results for most of the companies tracked by Multichannel Merchant.

Total September sales for apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch fell 7%, to $275.4 million, compared to $297.4 million in September 2007. What’s more, direct-to-consumer sales tumbled 5%, to $20.9 million. To make matters worse, September same-store sales sank 14%.

J.C. Penney Co. no longer reports its direct sales results for the month, but the general merchant saw comparable-store sales slip 12.4%. Total sales in September decreased nearly 11%, to $1.44 billion, down from $1.62 billion for September 2007.

Meanwhile, September sales at women’s apparel marketer Victoria’s Secret Direct slipped 12%, which was below company expectations.

Bucking the trend was Neiman Marcus Direct. September sales for the luxury retailer’s direct unit increased 5.3%. The division consists of the print catalog and online operations for Neiman Marcus and Horchow, as well as the Bergdorf Goodman Website.

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September Sales Roundup

September sales results were anything but consistent. Some of the publicly traded companies tracked by Multichannel Merchant rebounded from a difficult August while others struggled, and still others remained well below the profitable radar.

September direct sales for J.C. Penney Co. decreased 8.5%, to $260 million, compared with $284 million in September 2006. The results were below company guidance for a low single-digit increase. Internet sales for the Plano, TX-based general merchant rose nearly 6.4%. Total company sales slipped 2.4%, to $1.62 billion. Same-store sales fell 4.6%. Penney officials said in a release that same-store sales rose 8.7% and direct sales were up 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 5.7% rise in September 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 September revenue for the cataloger/retailer increased 8.6%, to $466 million.

September was another strong month for Hampstead, MD-based Jos. A. Bank Clothiers. The merchant’s sales for the month increased 8.2%, to $49.9 million, up from $46.1 million in September 2006. But direct sales for the menswear cataloger/retailer slipped $0.4%, while same-store sales inched up 1.4%.

After a difficult August, Victoria’s Secret Direct rebounded in September. On the heels of a 64% plunge in August, due to shipping delays associated with opening its new distribution center, sales at Victoria’s Secret Direct rose 27% in September. Amie Preston, vice president of investor relations for Columbus, OH-based parent company Limited Brands, said during a conference call that “The DC is now operating under normal ship times.”

Hard times continued for San Francisco-based Sharper Image Corp. September sales at the electronic gifts merchant sunk 39%, to $19.6 million, compared to $31.9 million in September 2006. Catalog/direct marketing sales (including wholesale) plummeted 62%, to $3.7 million from $9.8 million last year. Internet sales fell 51%, to $2.2 million, and same-store sales decreased 22%.

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September Sales Roundup

For September, most of the cataloger/retailers tracked by MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT reported growth in their direct-to-consumer units. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita did cause some to suffer from lower-than-expected sales, however.

Dallas-based Neiman Marcus Group wasn’t one of those hurt. The luxury goods merchant’s total September revenue grew 9%, to $397 million. September revenue at Neiman Marcus Direct, which includes the Horchow catalogs, increased 10%.

Likewise, September sales at Jos. A. Bank Clothiers (NasdaqNM: JOSB) grew 26%, to $40.3 million. Combined catalog and Internet sales for the Hampstead, MD-based men’s clothier increased 17%. Comparable store sales increased 13%. The company says it promoted heavily to offset the impact of the September hurricanes.

At New York-based Bluefly.com (Nasdaq SmallCap: BFLY), an online-only merchant of discounted designer fashions, September sales soared 61%, from $3.0 million last year to $4.8 million.

At Plano, TX-based general merchant J.C. Penney Co. (NYSE: JCP), September sales were in line with expectations. Total revenue was nearly $1.51 billion, up 1.6% from last year. Direct sales rose less than 1%, from $253 million to $254 million. Comparable store revenue increased 1.4%.

Hingham, MA-based apparel cataloger/retailer The Talbots (NYSE: TLB) said September sales increased 1%, to $185.9 million for the five weeks ended Oct. 1. Comparable store sales fell 5% for the month. Talbots does not release monthly catalog sales data.

At women’s apparel merchant Victoria’s Secret Direct, part of Columbus, OH-based Limited Brands (NYSE: LTD), September sales grew 3%, with Internet sales displaying “strong growth.” Total Limited Brands net sales increased 1%, to $687.3 million for the five weeks ended Oct. 1. Comparable store sales decreased 2%, excluding stores closed as a result of the Gulf Coast hurricanes.

And at San Francisco-based consumer electronics cataloger/retailer Sharper Image (NasdaqNM: SHRP), September sales fell 21%, to $36.6 million for the month ended Sept. 30. Store sales fell 15%, to $21.3 million, with comparable store sales down 21%. Total direct marketing sales, including wholesale revenue, tumbled 34%, to $9.9 million from $14.9 million the previous September. Internet sales fell 18%, to $5.4 million.

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September sales roundup

As catalogers contemplate an uncertain fall/holiday season, many publicly traded marketers started on the right foot by posting solid September sales.

High-end apparel cataloger/retailer Neiman Marcus Group (NYSE: NMG.A), which mails the Chef’s Catalog, Horchow, and Neiman Marcus titles, was one cataloger that had cause to celebrate. Total September revenue for the Dallas-based company increased 20%, to $298 million for the five weeks ended Oct. 5. Last year, sales at Neiman Marcus totaled $248 million. Comparable revenue at Neiman Marcus Direct, which includes the catalogs and Internet sales, increased 32%.

Meanwhile, men’s apparel cataloger/retailer Jos. A. Bank Clothier (NasdaqNM: JOSB) posted a 17% increase in September sales, to $21.5 million for the period ended Oct. 5. Combined catalog and Web sales increased 19%. Comparable store sales increased 9%.

High-tech gadgets marketer Sharper Image (Nasdaq: SHRP) said September sales soared 47%, to $31.3 million from last September’s $21.4 million. Total store sales for the San Francisco-based company increased 50%, to $17.7 million; comparable store sales increased 37%. Catalog sales increased 48%, to $9.8 million from last September’s $6.6 million. Internet sales, including auction sales, increased 29%, to $3.9 million from last September’s $3.0 million.

Columbus, OH-based Limited Brands, (NYSE: LTD), which includes women’a apparel cataloger/retailer Victoria’s Secret, reported an 8% hike in company sales for September, to $724.6 million. Sales at Victoria’s Secret Direct rose 15%, while the brand’s retail sales increased 15%.

Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT), which includes Marshall Field’s and Mervyn’s as well as Target, reported that net retail sales for the five weeks ended Oct. 5 increased 7%, to nearly $3.51 billion. Sales for Target’s catalog titles, which include Wireless, Seasons, and Signals, and Websites rose 34%, to $55 million.

But not every marketer closed September on a high note. Hingham, MA-based women’s apparel marketer The Talbots (NYSE: TLB) saw sales rise just 1%, to $176.6 million. Comparable store sales decreased a disappointing 6%.

Troubled Downers Grove, IL-based Spiegel Group (OTC Pink Sheets: SPGLA), which includes apparel cataloger/retailer Eddie Bauer, suffered a 19% decline in sales, to $183.6 million for the five weeks ended Sept. 28. Total direct sales declined 23%, though Web sales rose 5%. Eddie Bauer sales fell 12%, sales at apparel and home décor catalog division Newport News fell 31%, and Spiegel Catalog sales tumbled 25%. The sales results for Spiegel and Newport News, however, reflect a “significant” reduction in catalog circulation, according to a statement. Spiegel also said sales declined from more-restrictive credit policies implemented in the company’s private-label credit-card business.

Another general merchandiser, Plano, TX-based J.C. Penney Corp. (NYSE: JCP), also saw catalog sales slide. For the five weeks ended Sept. 28, catalog revenue was $217 million, down 17% from last September. But the cataloger/retailer noted that this was less of a decline than expected, thanks to a good early response to the gift assortment in the Christmas catalog. Total company sales fell 0.1% to $2.83 billion.

And New York-based apparel cataloger/retailer J. Crew Group saw September sales decline nearly 11%, to $59.1 million. Catalog and Internet sales fell 16%, while comparable store sales tumbled 20%.

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