A sluggish back-to-school season tripped up retailers reporting August comparable-store sales Wednesday, possibly foreshadowing what’s to come when most comps roll in today.
For Kohl’s Corp., J.C. Penney Co. Inc., American Eagle Outfitters Inc., Hot Topic Inc. and Zumiez Inc., late back-to-school shopping in August provided limited relief from frugal spending. The pickup failed to reverse declines in same-store sales, except in the case of Zumiez.
For the most part, comps were in line with company guidance and their impact was softened by tight inventory controls.
Same-store sales for Penney’s slid 4.9 percent for the month. Women’s apparel and family shoes excelled, while home and fine jewelry put up the weakest results.
Sales improved during the last three weeks of August as customers chose to shop later in the b-t-s season, the company said, continuing a recent pattern.
Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Global Retail Conference in New York Wednesday, Myron E. “Mike” Ullman, chairman and chief executive officer of Penney’s, said comps were influenced by a decrease in mall foot traffic, as well as hurricanes in the Southeast. Ullman said the adverse weather conditions were sure to lower September comps to mid- to high-single-digit decreases.
He also said the American Living line, from Polo Ralph Lauren Corp.’s Global Brand Concepts division, was expected to generate more than $300 million in its first year. Last month, Ullman said American Living, which is at the top of Penney’s price range, was initially mispriced and will be adjusted where necessary.
According to Banc of America Securities retail analyst Dana Cohen, Penney’s was “essentially” on target with comps, and in terms of inventory management, “expectations again seem solid” with management still “looking for inventories down at the end of the [b-t-s] selling season.”
At Menomonee Falls, Wisc.-based Kohl’s, comps decreased 5.8 percent, compared with a 0.6 percent dip for the same period last year. The company said it would continue to manage inventories, an encouraging sign, Cohen said, after noting that b-t-s sounded “a bit rocky.”
The retailer had anticipated a 2 to 4 percent decrease in monthly comps.
“Some traditional [b-t-s] business such as footwear and children’s performed well, while other areas such as juniors and young men’s were more challenging,” said president and ceo Kevin Mansell. “We continue to manage our inventory levels and expenses conservatively in this environment.”
Tightening inventories may have held back sales, but it also limited markdown exposure, said Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analyst Richard Jaffe. Consumers are shopping for “nationally recognized brands that they perceive have higher quality, greater fashionability and more status,” he said. “Kohl’s, with its increased penetration of private and exclusive brands, is capitalizing on this consumer preference, which is fueling sales at higher margins.”
Larry Montgomery, chairman of Kohl’s, said at the Goldman Sachs conference that the retailer will “continue to be very, very aggressive in terms of our approach to products and that is continuing to expand the percent of our business that we do in private and exclusive brands.”
While Penney’s and Kohl’s reported August results on Wednesday morning to coordinate with appearances at the conference, several specialty store retailers maintained their custom of posting monthly sales after the close of the markets on Wednesday.
Teen retailer American Eagle posted a 5 percent decrease in comps, compared with a 9 percent increase in the same period last year. The company reaffirmed its third-quarter earnings guidance of 31 to 36 cents a diluted share.
Mall-based retailer Hot Topic reported a 2.7 percent dip in comps, versus a 1.1 percent decrease for the same month in 2007.
Specialty retailer Zumiez managed a 0.2 percent comp increase, versus a 17.4 percent jump in comps in the year ago period.
My character, Dinah Madani, is just the coolest, [most] badass woman imaginable," says @amberroserevah. The actress stars in @marvel's newest series on @netflix, @thepunisher. To prepare for her role, Revah sat down with Homeland agents to get a real sense of with Dinah's day-to-day life is really like. Read our full interview on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
A scene from the 91st annual @macys Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade, which boasts 50 million TV viewers and 3.5 million on-site spectators, is considered one of the largest and most watched parades in the world. (📷: Jason Szenes/EPA-REX)
The circus came to @bloomingdales 59th Street on Tuesday night and lit up Lexington Avenue with acrobatic dancers, death-defying knife throwing, sword swallowing and aerial acts with no net. The 45 minutes of theatrics built up to unveiling the holiday windows depicting @swarovski crystal-encrusted circus pieces and scenes from “The Greatest Showman” – songs from the soundtrack included. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Joshua Scott)
The psychedelic fashion that pervaded the ’60s is back with an exhibit at the @museumofcityny. “Mode New York: Fashion Takes a Trip” chronicles the changing styles from 1960 through 1973 and features designers such as @ysl, @oscardelarenta and more. The exhibition, which is on display through April 1, is organized into four periods: First Lady Fasion, Youthquake, New Bohemia and New Nonchalance. Pictured here is model Pat Bardonella during the Garvey Day Parade in 1968. (📷: @kwamebphoto) #wwdeye #wwdfashion
“People should be a lot more honest in expressing both the dark and light of themselves. We need to give each other the space to do that because it’s the only way we can grow and evolve,” says @noelwells of her new film “Mr. Roosevelt,” which is largely based on her own struggles. Unexpectedly leaving @nbcsnl in 2014 after just one season, Wells felt set back in her self-esteem and career trajectory. She quickly refocused her energy to more personal projects, which led to the completion of “Mr. Roosevelt.” Read the rest of WWD’s interview with the “Master of None” actress on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
@barbrastreisand is giving fans a chance to see her perform up close in a new concert series, which makes its debut on @Netflix today. From behind-the-scenes takes to her concert performance in Miami last December, the two-hour streaming special captures Streisand in her element. Pictured here is the singer/actress photographed for WWD in 1963. (📷: Palmieri Tony) #wwdeye #wwdarchive
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)