May through July was an okay period for J.C. Penney (JCP), which said Friday that comparable sales increased 2.2% in the second quarter—delivering a two-year stack of 6.3%. Sephora, home, and footwear and handbags were the retailer’s top performing divisions, and net sales rose 1.5%, from $2.88 billion a year ago to $2.92 billion in the quarter ended July 30. This, along with considerable cost savings, helped J.C. Penney more than halve its net loss, from $117 million to $56 million. The company also reaffirmed its 2016 outlook: comps are expected to increase between 3 percent and 4 percent in the full year and EBITDA is projected to be $1 billion.
Dillard’s (DDS) missed the mark in the second quarter, reporting a 4 percent decline in total merchandise sales to $1.4 billion as well as a 5 percent decrease in sales at stores open for at least a year. The department store noted that while all categories were down, womenswear and men’s apparel and accessories did less badly than others. Net income for the quarter fell 40 percent from $29.9 million, or 75 cents per share, to $12.1 million, or 35 cents per share.
Despite insisting the second quarter exceeded company expectations, Nordstrom (JWN) recorded a sales decline Thursday. Total net sales decreased 0.2% in the three months ended July 30, slipping from last year’s $3.598 billion to $3.592 billion. Same-store sales suffered, too, down 1.2% compared with the same period a year ago, driven by a 6.5% decrease at Nordstrom full-line stores. The only bright spots: Nordstrom Rack and Hautelook, which posted a combined 5.3% increase in comps and an 11.2% jump in net sales. The company has opened six Nordstrom Rack stores to date in fiscal 2016 and its off-price division made up nearly one-third of total company revenue in the second quarter. Nordstrom net earnings narrowed to $117 million, or 67 cents per diluted share.