With its 5.5 percent comp retreat below plan, J.C. Penney Co. Inc. pulled down its first-quarter earnings expectations to 18 to 23 cents a share, versus 29 cents in year-ago period. Earlier in the quarter, profits were pegged to be in the low-30-cent range.
Thanks to a stronger showing in its home improvement category, Sears, Roebuck & Co.’s 3.1 percent comp drop was better than expected. The firm’s full-line stores comped down by a percentage in the mid-single digits, while softlines were down by low-double digits for the month. Women’s same-store sales slid by high-single digits, while men’s were down in the mid-single digits. April same-store sales are slated for a mid-single-digit drop, which would make it the firm’s 20th consecutive monthly drop.
Comps at Dillard’s Inc. decreased 12 percent in March. Saks Inc.’s total same-store sales slid 3.8 percent, including a 0.2 percent dip at its department store group and an 8.6 percent fall at Saks Fifth Avenue.
The Neiman Marcus Group Inc. posted a 0.5 percent comp drop, while Nordstrom Inc.’s same-store sales were down 1.7 percent.
Declines also defined the regional department stores in March, with The Elder-Beerman Stores Corp. down 2.9 percent, Gottschalks Inc. off 6.4 percent and The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. down 8.4 percent. Stage Stores Inc. endured a 15.6 percent comp drop, which prompted a reduction in first-quarter earnings projections to a range of $13.8 million to $14.6 million. Previously, the firm said income could go as high as $16.5 million.
Even retailers with broad product assortments, high value quotients and wide customer bases struggled against the calendar, war and economy last month.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s total U.S. comparable-store sales rose 0.7 percent with a 0.3 percent increase at its namesake division and a 2.6 percent advance at Sam’s Club. The overall result came in below the firm’s plan for an increase in the low-single-digit range.