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Retailers Report Mixed Year-End Sales Results

Though some retailers struggled with what have become all too familiar issues for brick-and-mortar stores, others remain bullish. And online continues to be a bright spot.

ASOS powers through the holidays

ASOS continues to be a hit with millennials at home and abroad. The online retailer posted retail sales growth of 36 percent to 605.7 million pounds ($737 million) for the four months ended Dec. 31, 2016. U.K. sales rose by 18 percent while international sales increased by 52 percent.

“Following record sales over Cyber weekend and the Christmas trading period, I’m pleased to report a strong start to the year. A 50 percent plus increase in international sales is a standout performance. U.K. sales growth at 18 percent was a strong performance in a more promotional market,” said Nick Beighton, ASOS chief executive officer. “With sales for the year now expected to be up by 25 percent to 30 percent, we’re accelerating our infrastructure investment to handle that growth. ASOS remains well set to meet its longer-t term ambitions as a result of the hard work and commitment of the team.”

Last month, the retailer announced plans to take advantage of the weak pound by doubling its manufacturing in the U.K. It will also add 1,500 jobs to its headquarters in London over the next few years.

Hudson’s Bay touts online sales

Canada’s Hudson’s Bay Company looks online for positive news. The company—which owns Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and Gilt—reported an e-commerce sales increase of 14.7% for the period of Oct. 30 to Dec. 31, 2016.

Across all business units, however, comparable store sales fell by 0.7%. The retailer’s off-price units took the biggest hit with Saks Off 5th and Gilt collectively reporting a comp store decrease of 5.2%.

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The company’s Canadian business was strong though the U.S. and Europe proved problematic. Like its competitors, Hudson’s Bay cited the changing retail landscape and the heavy promotional environment as a key factors. It also noted the Euro’s weakness against the Canadian dollar as a factor.

The company has reduced its outlook (on a constant-currency basis) to $14.4 billion Canadian ($10.9 billion) to $14.6 billion Canadian ($11.1 billion) for the fiscal year, down from $14.9 billion Canadian ($11.3 billion).

“As we head into the new fiscal year, we are focused on continuing to delight our customers with exclusive product offerings and custom all-channel shopping experiences, and by creating exciting retail destinations to increase foot traffic in our stores.” Hudson’s Bay CEO Jerry Storch, said.

Marks & Spencer benefitted from improved assortment

Group sales rose by 5.9% in the third quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2016. Clothing and home sales rose by 2.3% on a comp store bases. Due to the timing of Christmas, the retailer was able to add 1.5% to sales in these categories. The opposite may be true for the fourth quarter due to a late Easter.

“In Clothing & Home, better ranges, better availability and better prices helped to improve our performance in a difficult marketplace. We also continued to substantially reduce discounting, including over Black Friday,” chief executive Steve Rowe, said.

M& saw a 9.4% spike.

Fast Retailing profits jump

Profits for UNIQLO parent, Fast Retailing, leapt 45.1% to 69.6 billion yen ($605.5 million) during the first quarter, ended Nov. 30, 2016. Revenue increased 1.6% year on year to 528.8 billion yen ($4.61 billion).

Overall income increased by 16.7% for period to 88.5 billion yen ($772 million).

UNIQLO International’s revenue fell to 196.5 billion yen ($1.71 billion), 0.2% decline year-on-year.

“The fall in revenue was due largely to the effect of the stronger yen compared to the previous year, which pushed yen-based sales down by an average 16 percent,” a company statement noted. “However in terms of local currencies, sales rose across all of UNIQLO international’s operations.”

Primark slowed by rapid store openings

Primark parent company Associated British Foods reported a 12 percent boost in sales for the discount apparel retailer for the four months ended Jan. 7, 2017, compared to last year. The retailer also increased its retail space by 12 percent during the period.

While the U.K. performed well, Germany and the Netherlands faltered, in part due to the rapid increase in selling space.

AB foods finance chief John Bason told Reuters that women’s sales had been weak. The assumption is that shoppers in the U.K. are opting for experiences rather than things. In response, Bason said, the retailer is giving more selling space to children’s, men’s clothing and housewares.

Primark opened 15 new stores, and continues aggressive expansion plans.