November Comp Crux

In a month when comp “misses” outnumbered “beats” by a two-to-one margin, no one came close to the upside surprise of Stage Stores Inc.

STAGE PRESENCE: In a month when comp “misses” outnumbered “beats” by a 2-to-1 margin, no retail company even came close to the upside surprise or double-digit performance of Stage Stores Inc. The Houston-based firm pounded out a 13.2 percent increase for the month, including more than 20 percent growth during the week of Thanksgiving. While generally insulated from the impact of Hurricane Sandy, it was hardly immune. It had to permanently close its Peebles store in Ventnor City, N.J., on the Jersey shore near Atlantic City, and, of its total of 865 stores, 54 others were closed for between one and three days. The company had comp increases in every one of the month’s four weeks and the week Sandy arrived “actually turned out to be a good week for us, with comps up about 10 percent,” said Bob Aronson, vice president of investor relations. For the month, even its Peebles stores in the Northeast, which account for just 3 percent of sales, realized a pickup of more than 10 percent. Stage’s comp increases have grown in every quarter of the year, culminating in an 8.1 percent gain in the third quarter.

This story first appeared in the November 30, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

KOHL’S AS ICE: Conversely, Kohl’s Corp. suffered both the worst comp of the month — down 5.6 percent — and the biggest miss relative to Thomson Reuter’s expectations — estimates called for a 1.9 point increase. Working hard to put the best face on a dismal performance, Kohl’s chief executive officer Kevin Mansell noted that sales picked up toward the end of the month, especially in its e-commerce channel. Most of the online volume, however, will be recognized in December.

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