Christmas 1994: The Race Is On

All signs point to a healthy holiday season.

Sales beat projections at Penney's in Woodfield Mall in suburban Chicago and in Oak Park Mall in suburban Kansas City.

Accente, a Houston-based chain of 13 women's specialty stores in the Southeast and Southwest, achieved a 10 to 12 percent gain. Strongest categories were beaded evening dresses and separates, short and sexy dresses, holiday novelty jewelry and holiday novelty sweaters.

Lester Melnick, a three-unit women's specialty store in Dallas, moved a lot of markdowns by opening at 8 a.m. Friday and offering deep discounts throughout the morning. "We cleared a lot of bridge and designer sportswear, which is good for us," said Lester Melnick, owner. "We also sold about 30 leather coats ranging from $300 to $700, and about 70 to 90 holiday velour sets priced from $79 to $139."

Sales were ahead 13 percent at Stanley Korshak, a high-end Dallas specialty store. President Crawford Brock was disappointed with the results. "It really was not a lot of gift buying; it was primarily sale customers shopping for themselves," he observed. "Jackets and sweaters were big, Calvin Klein was driven by markdowns, Moschino and Complice did business, and handbags and small leather goods." Sales at Woodward & Lothrop department stores in Washington and its John Wanamaker division in Philadelphia were up in the "solid mid-single digits," while women's sportswear sales saw a "significant double-digit increase," said Robert B. Mang, chairman and ceo.
Mang said November sales have left him more optimistic about Christmas. "We planned a low single-digit increase, but I think we'll beat that," he said. Washington's two Saks Jandel designer specialty stores are expecting sales increases of 10 and 15 percent this December, said Peter Marx, vice president. He characterized sales on Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend as on plan, with particular strength seen in fur. In Atlanta, malls were packed. Sue Carpenter, marketing director of Cumberland Mall, said traffic was up 5,000 to 15,000 people on Friday over their 85,000 estimate and that business should be up 5 to 10 percent for the season.
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