NEW YORK — Female baby boomers apparently made an easier target for specialty retailers last month than did their younger counterparts.
While many teen retailers have sung the blues about recent traffic and sales trends, two stores focused on the missy customer, Chico’s FAS and Christopher & Banks, issued more upbeat reports on September sales.
Chico’s FAS said comparable-store sales for September are trending above its expectations of a low-double-digit increase. It will report final results for the month, along with most other retailers, next Thursday.
The Fort Myers, Fla.-based chain of 338 stores also said it was comfortable with third-quarter earnings estimates of 16 cents a share, up from 11 cents last year. The forecast is in line with analysts’ consensus estimates.
Christopher & Banks said same-store sales were flat in September, in line with previous guidance. Total sales for the Minneapolis-based specialty retailer, which operates 414 stores under the nameplates Christopher & Banks and C.J. Banks, increased 20.3 percent to $24.9 million from $20.7 million last year.
Bill Prange, chairman and chief executive, said in a statement: “Reflecting more difficult market conditions than expected, monthly sales were impacted by cautious consumer spending and this was coupled with unseasonably warm weather during the first three weeks of the month and the late receipt of certain key merchandise.”
Year-to-date comps have risen 7 percent, while total sales for the period increased 29.7 percent to $176.5 million from $136.1 million last year.
At the other end of the age spectrum, The Wet Seal Inc. said improvements in comps through the third week of September were offset by a shortfall in the fourth week, which has continued into the current fifth week.
As a result, the Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based company warned if the trends in September continue into October, it anticipates comps for the third quarter will be in the mid- to high-single-digit negative range and that earnings for the third quarter would fall significantly below estimates. The company said it expects earnings to be in the range of zero to 5 cents a share, compared with 23 cents reported in the year-ago period and the 18 cents predicted by Wall Street.
Sales are being negatively affected by a weak sweater and casual bottoms business, offset by continued strong customer acceptance of the company’s accessories offerings, Wet Seal said.
If the current comparable-store sales trends continue into the fourth quarter, fourth-quarter earnings would be below the 49 cents a share earned in the fourth quarter of 2001. Additionally, lingering weak sales trends would lead it to reduced its 2003 store openings to between 75 and 100 units.
Wet Seal operates 591 stores under the nameplates Wet Seal/Contempo Casuals, Arden B. and Zutopia