December Department Store Roundup

Luxury department stores managed to hold their own with single-digit increases for the month of December. Those stores that cater to middle-class shoppers saw sales declines during the important holiday season month.
Individual store performances are as follows:


Neiman Marcus, Inc. said that for the five-week period ended Dec. 29, same-store sales increased 2.9 percent to $709 million, year-over-year. Total revenues for the Dallas-based retailer were of $723 million, up 4.9 percent year-over-year.


Its Specialty Retail Stores segment, which includes Neiman Marcus Stores and Bergdorf Goodman, increased 1.8 percent for the period. Revenue growth trends were the strongest in the company’s stores in the Midwest, Texas, and New York City. The merchandise categories in the segment that performed the strongest included women’s shoes, designer handbags, beauty and men’s shoes and sportswear.


Comparable revenues at Neiman Marcus Direct for December increased 8.4 percent. The top selling merchandise categories in the Direct Marketing segment included designer shoes and handbags, women’s contemporary sportswear, jewelry, and men’s furnishings.



Saks Inc. said same-store sales rose 0.8 percent on December, on the strength of fine jewelry, shoes, and outerwear sales.


The New York-based retailer, which operates Saks Fifth Avenue and Off 5th stores, said same-store sales in November rose 25.7 percent. November and December results were skewed because of a calendar shift. For the combined two months same-store sales increased 10.2 percent year-over-year.


Total sales for the five weeks ended Jan. 5 rose 0.8 percent to $447.7 million.


The weakest performer in December was women’s clothing, including modern collections, sportswear, and large sizes, Saks said.



Nordstrom, Inc. said same-store sales decreased 4 percent, hurt by a calendar change.


The Seattle-based retailer said preliminary data indicated total sales for the five weeks ended Jan. 5 fell 3.8 percent to $1.2 billion.


A change in the retail calendar shifted a week of holiday sales into the prior month. For November, Nordstrom reported a same-store sales increase of 8.7 percent.



Macy’s, Inc. reported that same-store sales were down 7.9 percent for the five weeks ended Jan. 5. Total sales for the period were $4.6 billion, a decrease of 7.4 percent compared to the prior-year period.


For the November-December period combined, the retailer, with corporate offices in Cincinnati and New York, said Macy’s, Inc.’s same-store sales were down 1.1 percent.


“Given the calendar shift between November and December, we noted previously that the two-month holiday selling period needed to be viewed together rather than each month individually,” said Terry J. Lundgren, Macy’s, Inc. chairman, president and chief executive officer. “After a strong November, we had hoped that a more positive sales trend would continue through December. But macroeconomic trends led customers to spend cautiously for the holiday.”



JC Penney said same-store sales decreased 7.5 percent for the five weeks ended Jan. 5, year-over-year. Total company sales for the period fell 5.6 percent to $ 3.17 billion. Department store sales decreased 4.5 percent to 2.8 billion. The company said sales “continued to be impacted by a challenging consumer environment,” and also were affected by a calendar shift.


The best performing merchandise categories for the Plano, Texas-based retailer in December were seasonal gift items across all divisions, housewares in the home division, family shoes and women’s apparel, with the weakest being fine jewelry and big-ticket home categories. Geographically, the best performances were in the northwest and southwest regions of the country, with softer results in the northeast and central regions.


Internet sales through increased 12.2 percent for the nine-week November and December period, but decreased 5.1 percent for the month. Total direct sales fell 12.9 percent. The company said it continued to see good response to its Christmas book, with the best performing merchandise category being women’s apparel.



Kohl’s Corp. said same-store sales fell 3.4 percent over the five-week period ended Dec. 30. Same-store sales fell 11.4 percent on a reported basis. However, last year’s retail reporting calendar included 53 weeks. On a calendar-adjusted basis, comparing the five weeks ended Jan. 5, to the five weeks ended Jan. 6, 2007, same-store sales decreased 0.7 percent.


“Customers’ shopping patterns were driven by a search for value and they responded well to promotions closer to Christmas and post-holiday,” said Larry Montgomery, chairman and chief executive officer of the Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based retailer. “Our sales results reflected these deeper discounts, affecting our gross margin. In addition, we have been aggressive in our clearance strategy to ensure we have the appropriate inventory content and level entering fiscal 2008.”

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