5 RETAILERS REPORT SALES GAINS IN MAY

Byline: Catherine Curan

NEW YORK — While most major stores will report May sales results today, a small group of assorted retailers gave a preview by releasing figures Wednesday, with same-store gains that ranged from dramatic to slim.
American Eagle Outfitters and Chico’s FAS paced the group with hefty increases, while Intimate Brands Inc., The Dress Barn and Sunglass Hut posted single-digit improvements.
Intimate apparel and body care giant IBI’s same-store sales rose 3 percent, and total sales gained 6 percent to $271.4 million.
At Victoria’s Secret Stores, same-store sales were up 4 percent and margins improved. The new Angels 2000 line was launched May 11, and it beat plan. Sleepwear sales were below plan, but showed higher margins.
A twice-a-year sale begins June 16, with national TV ads kicking off the day before the sale. Last year, June same-store sales rose 37 percent, so the company is aiming for Victoria’s Secret stores to generate comps in the low-single-digit range this year.
At the Victoria’s Secret Catalog division, sales were down 1 percent and margins were down slightly.
At Bath & Body Works, same-store sales were ahead 1 percent, and margins were up due to the merchandise mix. Gift business was fairly strong for Mother’s Day.
Through the Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works brands, IBI operates 1,777 specialty stores.
American Eagle Outfitters’ same-store sales rocketed ahead 46.4 percent. Total sales rose 57.1 percent to $37.3 million. The company said tank tops, graphic T-shirts, cargo shorts and board shorts performed well in the month and continue to be strong. Warrendale, Pa.-based American Eagle operates 336 stores selling casual apparel, accessories and footwear.
American Eagle was slapped with a lawsuit by Abercrombie & Fitch Tuesday, charging the firm with “international and systematic copying” of the Abercrombie brand, images and business practices. American Eagle denied the charges.
Chico’s FAS, Fort Myers, Fla., said May same-store sales for its owned stores rose 32.8 percent. Total sales at the women’s casual apparel chain surged 46.6 percent to $8.5 million.
Sunglass Hut posted a 9.1 percent same-store sales gain, with total sales gaining 11 percent to $57.7 million.
At Dress Barn, same-store sales moved ahead 2 percent, with total sales up 6 percent to $55.6 million. The off-pricer, based in Suffern, N.Y., operates 682 stores.

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