Whitehall holiday sales are flat

Same-store sales at Whitehall Jewelers, Inc. declined 0.3 percent for the two-month holiday period, versus a 9 percent decrease for the same period in 2004. Total sales for the November and December period increased to $111 million, compared to $110.8 million in 2004.

During the period the company ran store closing/inventory liquidation sales in the 77 stores it plans to close, the Chicago-based jewelry retailer said in a statement. Sales in those stores increased to $15.2 million compared to $13.8 million in 2004. Two of the 77 stores have been closed and the balance of the stores are expected to close before the end of the first quarter. Comparable store sales in ongoing stores for the November/December period decreased 1.8, compared to a decrease of 8.4 period in 2004.

Year-to-date sales through Dec. 31 decreased 3.2% to $309.3 million, versus $319.5 million for the eleven-month period in 2004. Comparable store sales for the same eleven-month period decreased 4.1 compared to a 3.6 decrease in 2004.

“After all of the distractions of this past year, I am gratified that holiday sales strengthened at the end of the season and that the company exceeded recent sales trends,” Robert Baumgardner, Whitehall Jewelers chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We look forward to focusing management’s full attention to improving our business with new initiatives intended to increase sales and profits.”

Whitehall Jewellers, Inc. currently operates 387 stores in 38 states in regional and super regional shopping malls under the names Whitehall Co. Jewellers, Lundstrom Jewelers, and Marks Bros. Jewelers.