Zale Same Store Sales Down 19.6%

Zale Corp. said Thursday that same store sales decreased 19.6 percent for the combined months of November and December 2008, encompassing the entire holiday selling period. Total revenues for the two-month period fell 19.5 percent to $582 million, compared to $723 million during the 2007 holiday season.

Same store sales fell 13 percent in November and declined 22 percent in December, the Dallas-based jewelry retailer reported. November sales were boosted by improvement during the Thanksgiving weekend. December sales improved during the week leading up to Christmas, and the general post-Christmas trend has been good as well.

As of Dec. 31, 2008, inventory levels were approximately $115 million less than the prior year, and the overall assortment is much more current than last year, the company said.

“This holiday period was the most difficult in memory due to the overall macroeconomic situation,” said Neal Goldberg, Zale chief executive officer. “This environment dictated a very aggressive promotional stance with a focus on cash flow and inventory levels. While we suffered along with all retailers, we nonetheless believe that a number of the improvements in merchandise and management we have made over the past year helped our performance. We believe that we are in a strong position to benefit from the winnowing of competitors that we have already seen, and we intend to continue driving improvements in product and efficiency. We are determined to maintain our solid financial position and will take whatever actions are necessary to adjust expense levels and inventory spend to sales trends during 2009.”

Zale Corp. is a specialty retailer of diamonds and other jewelry products in North America, operating approximately 2,120 retail locations in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico, as well as online. Its brands include Zales Jewelers, Zales Outlet, Gordon’s Jewelers, Peoples Jewellers, Mappins Jewellers, and Piercing Pagoda. Zale also operates online at www.zales.com and www.gordonsjewelers.com.