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April Apparel Store Sales Results Disappoint

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For apparel retailers, March’s sales gains were April’s losses.

Although unseasonably warm weather in key areas of the country – and Easter falling two weeks earlier than last year – helped early sales of Spring apparel and accessories in March, those gains came at the expense of April’s results, according to data recently released by apparel-oriented retail chains.

As shown in the chart below, total sales at the top 16 apparel retail companies increased a collective 2.2% in April, a big drop from the 8.5% increase of the prior month. Although some retailers were not surprised by the sluggish sales, many found the results more disappointing than expected.

Sales at stores open at least a year, or same-store sales, rose a collective 1.4%, well below March’s 7.3% rise. April Comp

Teen retailer Zumiez skated to the front of the pack for the fifth straight month with a better-than-expected 20% increase in total sales and a 10% same-store sales rise. However, Buckle, another teen favorite, missed estimates by notching only a 3.2 increase in total sales and a 1% increase in comps. Total sales at Wet Seal fell by 7.6%, with comps down 9.6%, the worst same-store sales performance of the group.

Off-pricers Ross Stores and TJX were among the biggest total sales gainers for the month, as consumers continue to seek out quality at a price. Ross saw total sales climb 11.4% to $725 million for the month, while comps gained 7%. TJX shattered expectations with total and comp sales up almost 6%, to $1.8 billion.

Nordstrom was the top performing department store and, for the eighth straight month, had among the highest total sales growth, gaining 10.5% to $800 million. Same-store sales rose by 7.1%, the most of any retailer in April. For the second month in a row, Stage Stores also fared well, with total sales up a surprising 1.7%.

Macy’s missed expectations, however, with total sales up a paltry .4% and comps rising 1.2%, way below last month’s increase. However, the department store leader’s online sales grew by almost 30% in April. Saks Inc. reported total sales growth of just under 1%, and comps of 2%, missing monthly estimates for the first time since October. The BonTon had the sharpest drop of any department store, with total sales down 5.6% and comps off by 5%.

A 1.9% decline in total sales and 3.5% drop in comps at Kohl’s surprised many analysts who expected a slight increase. Total sales were disappointingly flat at Gap in April, and comps fell 2%.

Total sales at Limited Brands were down 3.5%, still partly due to the divesting of its third-party sourcing business and the closing of several La Senza doors, but comps rose by a better-than-expected 6%, thanks to continued strength at Victoria’s Secret and Pink.

Target, the only discounter still reporting on a monthly basis, missed its mark, with total sales up by only 2.1% and comps ahead 1.1%.

Most apparel stores no longer report monthly sales, so the real proof will come later this month when all 30 retailers, including Sears, Walmart, JC Penney and many of the more important apparel specialty chains, release first quarter results.

 

 

% Total vs LY

$

Millions

% Comps vs LY

Company

Apr

FYTD

Apr

FYTD

Apr

FYTD

Zumiez

20.0

1.3

38

144

10.1

12.9

Ross

11.4

13.6

725

2,357

7.0

9.0

Nordstrom

10.5

13.7

802

2,535

7.1

8.5

TJX

5.9

11.5

1,800

5,800

6.0

8.0

Buckle

3.2

9.9

72

264

1.0

7.4

Target Corp

2.1

6.1

4,978

16,537

1.1

5.3

Stage Stores

1.7

5.5

121

366

-1.0

2.5

Saks

0.9

4.2

260

744

2.0

4.8

Macy’s

0.4

4.4

1,928

6,147

1.2

4.4

Gap

0.0

5.8

1,150

3,490

-2.0

4.0

Steinmart

-0.8

0.0

95

303

-1.6

-0.4

Kohl’s

-1.9

1.9

1,254

4,243

-3.5

0.2

Cato

-2.7

0.7

85

273

-6.0

-2.0

Limited

-3.5

-2.8

659

2,154

6.0

7.0

The Bon Ton

-5.3

-1.4

187

641

-5.0

-1.3

Wet Seal

-7.6

-5.2

43

148

-9.6

-7.7

   Total

2.2

6.1

14,197

46,145

1.4

7.5

 

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