WWD.com/retail-news/financial/chilly-temps-black-friday-seen-lifting-nov-comps-474169/
government-trade
government-trade

Chilly Temps, Black Friday Seen Lifting Nov. Comps

Colder temperatures last month, combined with solid Black Friday sales and a favorable calendar shift, are expected to buoy November same-store sales...

Colder temperatures last month, combined with solid Black Friday sales and a favorable calendar shift, are expected to buoy November same-store sales figures, which come out today.

This story first appeared in the December 6, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The gains might not be stellar, but many companies have issued positive guidance. Analysts are looking for November comps to show a gain of about 3 percent. Comps in September and October had increases of 1.6 and 1.9 percent, respectively.

“For the month, we believe sales have been mixed, and sell-throughs in the apparel category are being achieved mostly through significant discounting on great product,” said Jennifer Black, president of Jennifer Black & Associates, in a research note.

Seasonal weather last month came at the end of a warmer-than-usual fall, which released some pent-up demand. Cold-weather items finally will be seasonal, according to weather analysis firm Planalytics. Nationwide, last month was slightly warmer than usual, but in select regions, temperatures were below last year.

Beyond the shift in weather, Black Friday will help November figures, as well. Sales on the first post-Thanksgiving shopping day were better than expected for many retailers, which will help lift some numbers.

“We believe that Black Friday sales were stronger than last year for select retailers. In addition, sales in the final week of November were robust, benefiting from a lift due to the more seasonably cool weather,” said Richard Jaffe, analyst with Stifel Nicholas, in a note.

Neiman Marcus Group Inc. prereleased its results, with a 5.8 percent increase in same-store sales for November. Walgreen Co. said comps rose 4.4 percent, but results missed expectations. Comps at Chico’s FAS Inc. slid 13.7 percent.

It remains to be seen how the holiday season will play out, analysts said. Some retailers were offering heavier discounts than others as the month ended. Analysts and industry observers described holiday merchandise sets as “uninspired.”

There were exceptions. J. Crew, though not releasing monthly numbers today, successfully created a fun holiday environment for shoppers with bright colors and eye-catching sleepwear and socks, according to store visits by analysts and WWD. One J. Crew store was handing out small bottles of water and holiday catalogues to all customers on a recent afternoon in New York.

Several analysts are expecting Aéropostale Inc. and Abercrombie & Fitch Co. to deliver top performances for the month due to these retailers’ offerings of color- and trend-right looks.

“Shoppers are buying, but they’re buying judiciously. Great values, needs, technology wants and newness seem to be driving the purchase decisions,” Black said.