Sandy Puts Squeeze On Stores

by , Nov 30, 2012, 8:43 AM
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Storefront-Target-AEven with strong sales and traffic for stores throughout Black Friday weekend, the nation’s biggest chains couldn’t quite shake off Superstorm Sandy. Target, Macy’s, Kohl’s, and even steady-performer Nordstrom all posted declining numbers, below expectation.

Overall, retailers saw November sales gain 1.7%, reports the International Council of Shopping Centers, which attributed the below-plan numbers not just to Sandy, but also the fact that the record-breaking levels of online sales over Thanksgiving won’t appear in results until December, when items actually ship. And the large number of people using layaway plans this year also depressed results, since those sales won’t hit the books until December, when final payments are made.

And while that means December sales should show a healthy pop, an increase of between 4 and 4.5% according to the ICSC, it made for a downbeat November.

At Target, comparable-store sales slipped 1% -- below its expectations, although the Minneapolis-based chain is optimistic about its overall holiday performance, including the launch of its Target/Neiman Marcus holiday collection. And at Kohl’s, comparable-store sales dropped 5.6%. While declines were worst in storm-affected areas, it says numbers slid in all its geographic regions.

Macy’s says sales fell 0.7%. “Despite the largest-volume Thanksgiving weekend in our company’s history, we were not able to overcome the weak start to the month, which included the disruption of Hurricane Sandy. Yet we remain on track to deliver a very strong sales performance in the fourth quarter, consistent with our guidance,” CEO Terry J. Lundgren, says in its release. “Going forward into the heart of the holiday season, we continue to be very enthusiastic about how our omni-channel strategy is playing out.”

Even Nordstrom saw its sales fall, with same-store results easing 1.1%, which it attributed not just to Sandy, but to weakness in one of its semiannual sales events.

Some stores bucked the trend and even beat their estimates. The Framingham, Mass.-based TJX, parent of TJMaxx and Marshalls,, says its sales gained 3%. The Gap also saw an advance of 3%, including a 5% bump at the Gap, 3% at Banana Republic, and 1% at Old Navy.

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