WWD.com/beauty-industry-news/financial/spring-gives-lift-to-april-s-comps-732045/
government-trade
government-trade

Spring Gives Lift To April’s Comps

NEW YORK — April showered same-store sales increases on Hot Topic and Aeropostale, as Easter, spring break and warmer spring weather helped to release some of the pent-up demand.<br><br>However, trends still remain subpar at American Eagle...

NEW YORK — April showered same-store sales increases on Hot Topic and Aeropostale, as Easter, spring break and warmer spring weather helped to release some of the pent-up demand.

This story first appeared in the May 8, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

However, trends still remain subpar at American Eagle Outfitters and Nordstrom.

Most analysts said expectations for first-quarter results, which will be sprinkled over the next several weeks, are modest.

The majority of U.S. retailers are expected to report their monthly sales tallies today.

Hot Topic, the music-oriented specialty retailer for teenagers based in City of Industry, Calif., said same-store sales last month rallied 9 percent, offsetting its 3.1 percent decline in March and the 2 percent decline in April 2002.

“The week leading up to Easter was the biggest sales week in the quarter,” Betsy McLaughlin, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement, noting comp sales were positive in each week of fiscal April.

The company said it expects to report first-quarter earnings of 13 cents for the three months ended Saturday. It plans to report financial results on May 21.

Another mall destination for teens, Aeropostale, said it enjoyed an 8 percent increase in its monthly comps, compared with its paltry 0.1 percent increase in March.

Julian R. Geiger, chairman and ceo, said in a statement: “Our sales for the month were driven by the strong performance of our new stores and by our comparable-store sales, which came against a challenging comparison to last year.”

With monthly sales running ahead of plan, the New York-based retailer said it now expects to report on May 22 quarterly financial results in excess of its prior guidance of a loss of 2 cents a share to breakeven.

Not all teen retailers were able to capture the dollars of their fickle constituents as American Eagle Outfitters continued to struggle during the month as comps at its AE stores declined 1.4 percent, while on a consolidated basis, comps dropped 1.7 percent, including a 6.1 percent fall at its Bluenotes/Thriftys stores. More troubling is the company forecast last month of consolidated April same-store sales rising in the mid- to high-single-digit percentage range.

Still, April’s performance was far better than the one in March, when AE comps retreated 9.3 percent.

Based on April sales results, the Warrendale, Pa.-based retailer, which markets to teen and college-age consumers, said it expects first-quarter earnings to be in the range of 8 to 9 cents, just shy of the 10 cents Wall Street analysts are currently expecting. AE said it is anticipating to report quarterly results May 15.

Nordstrom, the Seattle-based specialty department store, saw its April comps fall 0.3 percent, better than the 1.7 percent decline in March. In April, comps in full-line stores increased in the Northeast geographic region and were flat in the Northwest and Central States regions. By merchandise category, comps increased in cosmetics, accessories, junior women’s and women’s designer.

The firm said it expects first-quarter earnings to range between 12 and 15 cents, but lower than the 19 cents analysts on average are targeting. The company attributed the shortage to a decline in gross margins and higher expenses. Nordstrom said it expected to report financial results on May 19.