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Warm Weather and Gift Cards Bring Disappointing December Sales

Last minute sales, as well as post-holiday sales in the last week of the month, weren’t enough to salvage a disappointing December.

NEW YORK – Last minute sales, as well as post-holiday sales in the last week of the month, weren’t enough to salvage a disappointing December that was impacted by warmer temperatures and a significant increase in gift card sales through the holiday season. With a few notable exceptions, December, typically the biggest month of the year, was soft for many retailers according to same-store sales numbers reported this morning.

The specialty store sector suffered the most despite strong sales reports from American Eagle, Zumiez, Victoria’s Secret and children’s retailers. American Eagle beat industry expectations and reported a 13 percent increase for December. Other companies didn’t fare so well. Gap and Old Navy continued to slide, 9 and 10 percent respectively. Limited Brands declined 7 percent. Ann Taylor was off 5.3 percent. Overall the sector registered just a 1 percent increase over last year.

The department stores continued to turn in mixed results with Nordstrom and Saks reporting stand-out numbers for December. Overall the sector averaged a same-store sales gain of 2.5 percent on top of last year’s 4.2 percent increase.

Discounters fared reasonably well. Wal-Mart reported a 1.3 percent increase in same-store sales, just above company guidance. Target reported a 4.1 percent increase in comps, Costco was up 9 percent and TJX Cos. climbed 6 percent.


For complete coverage see tomorrow’s issue of WWD.