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Early Comps Suggest Sluggish November

NEW YORK — Stricken by a later Thanksgiving, retailers reporting November sales Wednesday saw weakness, which foretold what most firms are expected to reveal today.<br><br>Federated Department Stores Inc. said Wednesday that its November...

NEW YORK — Stricken by a later Thanksgiving, retailers reporting November sales Wednesday saw weakness, which foretold what most firms are expected to reveal today.

Federated Department Stores Inc. said Wednesday that its November comparable-store sales dropped 7.4 percent. Total sales for the month slid 5.8 percent to $1.47 billion.

“It is difficult to forecast December sales on the basis of what we have seen in November because while Thanksgiving weekend was strong, sales earlier in the month were weaker than expected,” said chairman and chief executive James Zimmerman, in a statement. “At this point we are anticipating sales at the lower end of our expectations for the combined November-December holiday period.”

Federated previously said its comps for the two months would be flat to down 2.5 percent. If December comes in flat, the firm said it would hit the low end of that range.

Nordstrom Inc.’s comps slid 1 percent last month. In the firm’s full-line stores, cosmetics, as well as designer contemporary and bridge apparel, comped up while women’s and children’s shoes and women’s activewear were flat. On a calendar basis, the firm’s same-store sales rose 2.8 percent.

Hot Topic Inc. offered a respite from the declines with a 4.7 percent comp uptick for November. Total sales for the retailer shot up 29.4 percent to $34.8 million.

Betsy McLaughlin, president and chief executive, said the results marked record sales during the pre- and post-Thanksgiving weekends. “Similar to last year, our promotional level was low with only one planned promo targeted to parents over the Thanksgiving weekend,” she said in a statement.

Aeropostale Inc.’s comps dipped 1.3 percent for the month, compared with a 17.8 percent increase a year ago. Same-store sales rose in the mid-single digits over the Thanksgiving weekend. “Promotional activity has moderated and our merchandise margin trend continues to improve versus plan,” chairman and ceo Julian Geiger stated.

Guess Inc.’s retail comps inched up 1.1 percent, with a 3 percent rise at its full-priced stores, offset somewhat by a 2.9 percent drop at its factory outlets. Total sales climbed 9.5 percent to $36.8 million.

In the off-price arena, Factory 2-U Stores Inc. endured a 9.6 percent same-store sales decrease. Total sales dropped 10.9 percent to $47.7 million.

Meanwhile, the big bang in cyberspace comes the Monday after Thanksgiving, according to Internet researcher comScore Media Metrix, which found online purchases made by consumers on Dec. 2 totaled $379.5 million, up 49 percent from the comparable day last year. ComScore estimates 60 percent of online sales to consumers are transacted in the workplace, thus the researcher reasons that post-Thanksgiving Monday marks the first surge in holiday cybershopping. Nontravel online sales made on Dec. 2 tallied $231.5 million, up 37 percent over Black Monday in 2001, while travel volume hit $148 million, up 72 percent from the same day last year, when travel fell sharply post-9/11.