NEW YORK — A touch of spring led to solid March same-store sales results at The Dress Barn and Guess Inc.
In addition, American Eagle Outfitters reported late Wednesday that its month-to-date consolidated comps through March 30 increased 7.8 percent, with the American Eagle brand comps up 7.9 percent and Bluenotes comps rising 5.7 percent. Overall, company sales through the period are up 17.9 percent.
American Eagle reported in advance of management’s presentation at the Banc of America Securities Consumer Conference held Thursday. The retailer said it expects to provide month-end March sales results on April 7, following the close of the market. The majority of retailers will report April 8.
The retailer also said it expects first-quarter earnings of 25 to 30 cents, which far surpasses last year’s earnings of 9 cents. American Eagle anticipates reporting first-quarter earnings May 13.
Jim O’Donnell, chief executive officer, said the company is “extremely pleased with the response to our spring merchandise, which is fashion-right and sharply targeted at our customers.” He added that sales strength is broad-based, with positive comps in men’s and women’s divisions. He also said merchandise margins are strong, reflecting fewer product markdowns and less promotional activity.
Meanwhile, Dress Barn and Guess reported Thursday positive gains in their March sales as a strong color fashion cycle drove consumers into stores.
March comps at Suffern, N.Y.-based Dress Barn, which sells value-priced career and casual apparel in 785 stores, rose 9 percent, while overall monthly sales increased 14.6 percent to $73 million, compared with $63.7 million reported in March 2003.
“The weather definitely helped us, but the business was fueled by color,” said Keith Fulsher, Dress Barn’s general merchandise manager, in a telephone interview. “Color across the board is performing in every merchandise category and pink in all shades has been terrific.”
He noted merchandise in black and white and geometric patterns like polkadots is also performing well. In addition, he said he is seeing a resurgence in career sportswear, especially novelty jackets, feminine blouses and knee-length floral-print skirts also.
Guess, the Los Angeles-based contemporary apparel company, saw its March comps rise 13.8 percent and total retail sales balloon 19.3 percent.
Guess said fashion denim in its men’s and women’s divisions was strong, as well as accessories, especially watches, handbags and jewelry. Geographically, the West, and particularly markets such as Hawaii, Las Vegas and Arizona, performed the best. The company said early sales indications of summer product like capri pants and sleeveless tops are strong.