NEW YORK — Two specialty retailers — Deb Shops and The Dress Barn — Thursday reported declines in September same-store sales, adding to already strong misgivings about last month’s retail results.
Retail stocks continued their downward spiral, most glaringly in the teen retail sector, as many companies traded lower than the Standard and Poor’s Retail Index, which dropped 3.61 points, or 1.4 percent, to 262.92.
As a tumultuous week drew toward its conclusion, the markets overall had a relatively quiet day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed off 37.8 points, or 0.5 percent to 7,717.81, and the Nasdaq composite index finished down 21.74, or 1.8 percent to 1,165.56.
Philadelphia-based Deb Shops, which sells clothing, shoes and accessories for juniors in both regular and plus sizes, said its monthly comparable-store sales declined 5.3 percent, while total sales increased 2.1 percent to $24.1 million from $23.6 million. Deb shares closed the day at $21.25, down $2.71, or 11.3 percent, in Nasdaq trading.
While it has been reported that junior retailers have been suffering this back-to-school selling season, The Dress Barn’s 2 percent monthly sales drop could be indicative of a more generalized weakness affecting mature women’s apparel and other soft-goods categories as well.
The Suffern, N.Y.-based retailer of value-priced women’s apparel said total sales in September notched up 2.7 percent to $72 million, compared with $70.1 million reported last September. Investors were kinder to Dress Barn, sending its shares down 13 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $15.41 in Nasdaq trading.
Savannah, Ga.-based Friedman’s Inc., a specialty retailer of fine jewelry, said comps for its fourth quarter ended Sept. 28 increased 3.8 percent, while net sales rose 5.3 percent to $69.2 million, compared with $65.7 million during the comparable period last year. For the year, the retailer, which currently operates 650 stores, said comps extended 3.5 percent and total sales reached $436.1 million, which is 6.1 percent higher than 2001’s sales of $411 million.
Company shares declined 21 cents, or 2.7 percent, to close at $7.60 on the Nasdaq.
Meanwhile in a research report, Salomon Smith Barney cut its September expectations for Kohl’s Corp. It now expects Kohl’s September comps to increase between 2 and 4 percent, versus its previous forecast of 5 to 6 percent. Kohl’s comps increased 4 percent in September 2001.
Kohl’s shares closed down $3.47, or 5.8 percent, at $56.10, on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares have traded as low as $50.45, reached Oct. 9, and as high as $78.83, reached on May 20.
Specialty store stocks enduring losses on Thursday included: American Eagle Outfitters, down 37 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $11.26; Abercrombie & Fitch, $1.32, or 7.3 percent, to $16.81; Buckle, $1.82, or 9.9 percent, to $16.52; Charming Shoppes, 55 cents, or 8.7 percent, to $5.80; Delia’s, 4 cents, or 5.8 percent, to 65 cents; Gadzooks, 73 cents, or 12.6 percent, to $5.07; Gap, 79 cents, or 7.9 percent, to $9.17; Pacific Sunwear of California, $1.10, or 5.8 percent, to $17.75; and Urban Outfitters, $1.54, or 7.3 percent, to $19.64.