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Byline: CATHERINE M. CURAN
NEW YORK -- For most major retailers, same-store sales in June beat those in May and were spurred by the warmer weather and a renewed interest in apparel.
Slipdresses; shorts and swimwear; textured fabrics, especially linen; licensed T-shirts, particularly those with Disney characters, and athletic shoes were leading sellers.
"We were encouraged by the modest uptick in ready-to-wear apparel sales, which had been lagging earlier in the season," said Allen I. Questrom, chairman and chief executive officer of Federated Department Stores, in a statement. Federated's sales rose 7.2 percent to $659.9 million, from $615.4 million, and same-store sales were up 2.6 percent. Ann Taylor Stores Corp. led the pack with a 16.4 percent same-store sales gain. Total sales jumped 30.8 percent to $62 million from $47.4 million. Women's apparel was a key contributor to strong results at Sears Merchandise Group, according to chairman and ceo Arthur C. Martinez. Sales were up 9.5 percent to $2.5 billion from $2.3 billion, and comparable-store sales advanced 8.4 percent. Denim shorts, slipdresses, knits, jewelry, cosmetics and Lion King private label merchandise were hot.
J.C. Penney Co. registered gains in women's career and casual sportswear, accessories, cosmetics and intimate apparel, according to chairman and ceo William R. Howell. Sales rose 7.1 percent to $1.24 billion from $1.2 billion, and same-store sales were up 6.8 percent.
Some stores, however, continued to struggle. The Limited Inc. reported same-store sales fell 4 percent, with women's apparel still lagging.
Neiman Marcus Group said same-store sales were down 1.7 percent, and The Gap Inc. had a disappointing 2 percent gain, which it said was due to less promotional activity.
Robert J. Ulrich, Dayton Hudson's chairman and ceo, said sales at Target surpassed plan, reflecting increased advertising and good weather across the country. Overall, DH's sales rose 12.7 percent to $1.9 billion from $1.7 billion.
Target knocked out a same-store gain of 12 percent and a 20 percent overall gain. The strongest trend was Lion King merchandise. Other hot sellers were Looney Tunes and Disney print T-shirts, bloomer-style knit shorts and swimwear.
At DH department stores, total and same-store sales were flat. Key items included dressy sweats, shorts, suspenders with pants, linen and soft, full dresses.
Mervyn's performed slightly below expectations, with same-store sales off 1 percent, and overall sales up 2 percent. Textured fabrics and broomstick skirts were strong.
Spiegel Inc.'s sales climbed 38 percent to $233.3 million from $169 million, with strength in retail and catalog units. The New Hampton women's catalog saw strength in dresses and swimwear. The Spiegel catalog had strong sales in dresses and summer apparel, which was also strong at Eddie Bauer. Same-store sales rose 12 percent.
At Neiman Marcus Group, sales slipped 5 percent to $175 million from $184.1 million, and same-store sales fell 1.7 percent.
The bright spot was Bergdorf Goodman, which posted comparable-store sales gains in the mid-single digits. Contempo Casuals was off in the mid-single digits, and Neiman Marcus stores were off slightly, hurt by a shift of a Last Call clearance store sales event into July. Limited Inc.'s total sales rose 5 percent to $631.8 million from $604.1 million, but same-store sales dropped 4 percent. Comparable-store sales at Express were off in the high teens. Limited Stores and Lerner New York were off in the low single digits. Victoria's Secret stores posted same-store gains in the high single digits, while catalog sales were up significantly in the mid-40s. The Limited Too children's business had same-store sales up in the low 20s.
The Gap posted a 12 percent sales gain to $308 million from $276 million, and same-store sales inched up 2 percent. Kmart Corp.'s chairman Joseph Antonini said sales improved considerably against a weak May, but noted apparel sales slackened as June progressed. He said the comparison was hurt by last year's heavy fashion clearance.
Sales rose 6.8 percent to $3.5 billion from $3.3 billion, and same-store sales rose 2 percent.
Wal-Mart's same-store sales were up 9.3 percent, dragged down slightly by Sam's Clubs. Total sales advanced 26 percent to $6.7 billion from $5.3 billion. Other comparable-store sales gainers included Dollar General Corp., up 12.2 percent; Bon-Ton Stores, 10.6 percent; Value City Department Stores, 9.8 percent; Caldor Corp., 6.8 percent; Dillard Department Stores, 6 percent, and May Department Stores Co., 5 percent.
Those with negative same-store sales included Merry Go Round Enterprises Inc., down 16 percent; The Clothestime Inc., 11 percent, and Dress Barn, 5 percent.