Retailers Can't Find Thanks in Weak November '02 Sales

The holiday weekend sales rush couldn’t salvage sales for most retailers for the month of November. Wall Street darlings Target Corp. and Kohl’s Corp. also felt the pain of consumer penny-pinching. The Bank of Tokyo-Mistubishi- UBS Warburg’s monthly chain store sales index registered flat against the year-ago period, according to analyst Michael Niemira. The lateness of Thanksgiving, which fell six days later than in 2001, contributed to the drop by depriving retailers of shopping days. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, said same-store sales rose 2.6 percent in line with analyst predictions, scoring a better figure than most discounters. Target reported a same-store sales decline of 6.7 percent, and Kohl’s disappointed analysts with a 3.4 percent decrease in same-store sales. Analysts had anticipated a 2.7 percent gain. Department stores also felt the effects of a sluggish job market and heightened concern about job security. Saks reported that same-store sales were off by 7 percent, and Federated Department Stores, parent of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, said same-store sales fell 5.8 percent. Some specialty retailers rang up some cheer with positive figures. Teen specialty retailer Pacific Sunwear said comparable- store sales soared 11.7 percentwell above the 3.5 percent analysts were expecting. Gap Inc. also recorded a better-thanexpected 9 percent gain in same-store sales, citing strength with the company’s color-focused marketing campaign touting striped sweaters, scarves and hats. The report marked the San Francisco–based retailer’s second consecutive month of positive samestore sales. —Nola Sarkisian-Miller