The Grinch not only stole Christmas from fashion companies, but took a good part of January, too.
Victoria’s Secret-parent L Brands Inc. said Thursday that comparable sales fell 4 percent in January, with a 1 percent drop in total sales, to $811.3 million.
That weakness was driven by the Victoria’s Secret business, which comped down 10 percent for the month with the brand’s move to exit the swim and apparel categories hurting results by 7 percentage points.
The firm’s chief executive officer Leslie H. Wexner took the reins of Victoria’s Secret last year and is navigating the chain through a painful transformation, taking a sales hit as goods are stripped away to sharpen the brand and chasing the newer bralette category.
L Brands’ fourth-quarter comps were flat, with a 4 percent drop at Victoria’s Secret and an 11 percent gain at Bath & Body Works.
The company, which will weigh in with its full quarterly results on Feb. 23, said earnings per share were on target to hit $1.90, in line with prior guidance for profits of $1.85 to $2.
Specialty chains weighing in with results from January were also showing the strain in the market, already abundantly evident from the likes of Macy’s Inc. and Sears Holdings Corp., which are closing stores, and the bankruptcy of The Limited.
The Cato Corp. posted same-store sales for the four weeks of $45.5 million, a 14 percent drop.
“Unfortunately, January same-store sales results continued at our current trend,” Cato’s chairman, president and chief executive officer Jon Cato said.
The North Carolina-based company’s sales for the fourth quarter didn’t fare much better, coming in at a total of $218.2 million, a 12 percent drop. Sales for 2016 were down 5 percent to $947.4 million from a little over $1 billion in the previous year.
During the fiscal year, Cato closed nine stores, opened another eight and relocated six, leaving it with 1,371 operating stores in 33 states, only two fewer than it had in the previous fiscal year.
The Buckle Inc. saw an even bigger decline in net same-store sales for January, during which it also closed three stores, dropping 17.2 percent to $43.9 million. Net sales for the quarter were similarly bleak, with a 15.7 percent dive to $280 million from $332 million a year ago.