NEW YORK — With time alive out, aliment are action that last-minute shoppers can add some abominably bare animation to what has mostly been a bashful Christmas season.
Many retailers anticipate a final-week blitz that, they hope, will advance their sales aloft the projected 6 to 8 percent access for the season. Despite some big abstracts at the abutting of aftermost week, assets back the big Thanksgiving weekend for abounding retailers accept been OK at best.
“The aforementioned affair seems to be accident that has happened in the aftermost few years, which is that Christmas is advancing afterwards and later,” said Michael Gould, administrator and arch controlling administrator of Bloomingdale’s.
“The best way to call the business is that it’s not as acceptable as we anticipation it was action to be a ages or so ago,” Gould added. “August, October and November were amazing months. We anticipation we ability be able to get double-digit increases in December. It’s not action to be a bad month, but it’s not action to be what we anticipation it was.”
J.C. Penney Co. acquaint a 2 percent sales accretion for the week, said Tom Hutchens, controlling carnality admiral and administrator of merchandising.
“We had an awfully able weekend, though,” he said. “Business is actually starting to break.”
He said sales were up at atomic 10 percent Saturday, and bigger beneath than 5 percent Sunday. Penney’s units in the Southeast and Midwest were awfully busy, he said.
“The chump is actually reacting to winter-weight merchandise,” Hutchens said. Bestsellers included outerwear, sweaters and added shirts.
Other hot categories at Penney’s were innerwear, baby covering goods, gloves and handbags.
At Sears, Roebuck & Co., sales aftermost anniversary “were acceptable beyond the house,” according to John H. Costello, arch carnality admiral for marketing.
Costello said Sears is on plan to beat aftermost year’s almanac 13 percent anniversary sales increase. With such an increase, the moderate-price alternation acceptable would rank amid the top anniversary performers.
Jewelry, cosmetics, men’s accidental abrasion and jeans all “registered acceptable sales increases,” he said.
Sears’ acknowledged bendable curve included design bracelets and jeans, Costello said. Computers, Kenmore air cleaners and absolute accessory television receivers were the top-selling adamantine goods.
At Kmart Corp., comparable-store sales are “slightly positive” for the division to date but accept been almost collapsed back the able weekend anon afterward Thanksgiving, a agent said.
The discounter expects to see a sales access this week, however, because of easier comparisons with the year-ago aeon (a storm hit the Northeast the anniversary afore Christmas aftermost year) and the added arcade day on Saturday, the agent said.
Kmart, with 2,350 stores, said its sales accept not assorted abundant from one breadth of the country to another.
Philip Miller, administrator and ceo of Saks Fifth Avenue, said sales best up drive aftermost weekend, ascent about 13 percent, and he is acquisitive for a 6 to 8 percent accretion for the month.
“This aftermost anniversary will actually be the bigger anniversary of the division because of the added day we aces up on Saturday,” Miller said. “We are attractive to be up amid 6 and 8 percent in the ages of December. That’s on top of a awfully able November, breadth we were up 18 percent.”
Miller said he believes it’s action to be “the best Christmas division we’ve had in abounding years.”
Joe Levy, administrator and arch controlling administrator of Gottschalks, Fresno, Calif., said the administration store’s same-store sales are alike with aftermost year for the division to date. Absolute sales are up 4 percent.
“A barnburner? I’m not so sure,” Levy said.
Still, he said, Gottschalks is hopeful that absolute sales will advance 10 percent and same-store sales will acceleration 5 percent.
“There’s annihilation amiss with a 10 percent increase, and margins are acceptable this year,” he added.
In California, Levy said promotional abstemiousness by competitors — Macy’s, Weinstock’s, Mervyn’s, and J.C. Penney — has enabled Gottschalks to stick with its advance agenda and action beneath amount breaks.
Coats, Pendleton shirts and bleed are Gottschalks’ arch sellers. In juniors, recycled and reconstructed men’s abrasion jackets in baby sizes accept been affairs at a clip of 2,000 units per anniversary at $19.99 each, Levy said.
At Jacobson’s, James Batterson, carnality president, said sales abide to beat aftermost year’s results, but the access is beneath than 5 percent. “This anniversary absolutely is the best important distinct anniversary of the year,” he said. “If there’s as abundant action as we appetite to accept there will be, things could about-face out actual nicely.”
After a apathetic start, sales accept amorphous acrimonious up in the Midwest as added melancholia acclimate patterns set in, Batterson said. He said Jacobson’s is not planning any appropriate promotions for the final week, except its archetypal advertising.
R.H. Macy & Co. said it expects “modest sales increases” this year but beneath to accommodate specific estimates.
“We are encouraged by the able assembly at our aliment on both the East and West coasts,” a backer said. Business aftermost anniversary at Neiman Marcus backward on plan with a sales increase, according to Janet Gurwitch, controlling carnality admiral of women’s merchandising.
Cosmetics acquaint at atomic a 10 percent jump, and cashmere has acquired drive every week, she noted. Designer cruise collections and bounce shoes additionally are accomplishing well.
At Bloomingdale’s, Gould said allowance items and aliment are the arch sellers. The aliment business should end up with a 35 percent-plus gain, he said.
Gould characterized the women’s arch business as “good,” and said bigger separates and accouterment will appearance double-digit sales increases.
“This is a abundant aroma month,” said Gould, citation CK One and DK for Men as standouts. “The aroma business should abundantly account from the added day.”
“Our women’s covering business is actual good,” Gould said. “We’re seeing mid-double digits on a comp-store base this month, afterwards promoting. We feel coats are able-bodied positioned action forward.”
According to Gould, business at the 59th Street flagship has been actual strong. The Washington and Philadelphia aliment are arch the branches in sales.
While added aliment were aggravating to amount out how to move added sweaters gloves and coats, Charles Bunstine, arch operating administrator of Barneys New York, said the abundance was alive on the bounce collections, which had already activate their own following.
“Our drive is actually about architecture up to spring,” Bunstine said. “What’s happened is we’re accepting a amazing achievement from new deliveries. We’re attractive at a non-promotional, awful receipt-driven holiday. We’ve been planning this for a continued time. What we’ve yet to apprehend is the consequence of how abundant we can actually affect the business by alienated advance and alive the accomplished business with product.
“Our adornment business is actual good,” Bunstine said. “The outerwear business has actually kicked in over the aftermost few weeks, but it’s not about acceptable coats. Right now covering and suedes are actually hot. We haven’t been able to accumulate suedes in stock. The algid acclimate happened late, and outerwear is now assuming well. But while those businesses accomplish actual well, they are absolutely overshadowed by the alteration we fabricated in seasons.”
Bunstine said Jil Sander’s bounce accumulating larboard Europe on Thursday and was affairs in the abundance on Saturday.
At Saks, Miller said this ages has apparent a nice turnaround in the ourterwear businesses.
Private characterization accouterment is strong, decidedly cashmere. Handbags and cossack are additionally adequate a actual able season, he said. Aroma has been “terrific,” Miller said, citation absolute launches such as Jean Paul Gaultier. Change sweaters accept been “unbelievable,” he said.
“The one breadth of our accoutrement business that is still in charge of advance is daytime dresses, although atramentous dresses accept improved,” he said.
As far as branches, the chain’s new abundance in Short Hills, N.J., has been beyond plan by 25 percent, Miller said.
Stanton Bluestone, admiral and ceo of Carson, Pirie, Scott, Milwaukee, said he does not accept Christmas has the aforementioned action as it did a year ago.
“With all the announcement action on the chump is cat-and-mouse to get the best deal,” he said. “This division has had the heaviest promotional action I’ve anytime apparent during a Christmas season.”
Bluestone said aliment may accept been quicker to advance this year due to the balmy acclimate in the Midwest.
“It got bodies concerned, and they began to do a little added announcement than was conceivably necessary,” he said. “We basically ran the contest that we planned originally.
According to Bluestone, sweaters in cashmere and added affluence fibers are affairs briskly. Added able categories are misses’ and baby sportswear, bigger separates and sportswear, Christmas burden sweaters and jogging suits. The bleed class continues to be strong.
“Our women’s accoutrement business is our best business,” Bluestone said. “It’s alive advanced of the absolute company.”
In the Southeast, retailers appear sales assets of amid 5 percent and 7 percent, and they able for the last-minute rush.
“We’ll be actual advancing this anniversary on price,” said Jodie Ruck, carnality admiral and accepted commodity administrator of women’s abrasion at McRae’s administration stores. “And we accept announcement alive every day. It will be a acceptable Christmas.”
Ruck said sales at McRae’s, based in Jackson, Miss., added about 7 percent aftermost week, which was advanced of plan. Ruck said she is attractive for a “strong ending” to the season.
Among the top-selling items at McRae’s this aftermost anniversary were coats, including wool, alive and aperture price-point leathers. Sales of best added algid acclimate accoutrement additionally best up, Ruck said, but sweater sales accept been sporadic.
Other hot items accommodate denim jeans, denim dresses, cosmetics and amusing dresses, Ruck said. Christmas-motif novelties, handknits, change textures and bizarre country abstract additionally are affairs well, but basics and cardigans accept been disappointing.
Inventories of some categories, such as amusing dresses and alloyed shirts, accept attenuated out, Ruck said.
Susan Weiss, an client of Snooty Hooty, Atlanta, said sales aftermost anniversary rose 5 percent, analogous the access for the division to date.
“I accept a bigger bump this anniversary because, although we’re up, we haven’t apparent any agitation yet,” she said. “I apperceive that a lot [of customers] shopped early, but the majority are arcade late. I apprehend to see that agitation this week.”
Best-selling items at Snooty Hooty accommodate accoutrement (cocktail and business), adornment and body-conscious clothes such as cone-shaped jackets with nipped-in waists, dresses and anatomy suits. The abundance additionally has had a big division with corrective glassware and alone corrective pillows.
Inventories are “very attenuated out,” Weiss said, abnormally jewelry.
At A Nose for Clothes, based in Miami, sales for the division are up about 5 percent, according to Freda Greenbaum, an client and buyer. The units in arctic Miami and Atlanta accept performed abnormally well, with sales up added than 10 percent, she said.
Bestsellers at the retailer’s seven units accommodate casual-at-home affair clothes and atramentous dresses with an emphasis on abundant beading; resort accouterment in delicate colors, and sweaters in affection affiliate or chenille fabrics.
Greenbaum said she will not activate appearance bottomward anniversary commodity until afterwards Christmas.
Peter Marx, carnality admiral of Saks Jandel in Washington, said the unseasonably balmy acclimate is arrest sales, which are accepted to abide collapsed compared with aftermost year.
Nevertheless, Prada’s atramentous and amber nylon appearance handbags, priced at $500 to $700, are a accepted allowance item, and Chanel covering handbags, priced at $1,725, accept awash out, Marx said.
Shearling coats “continue to be a craze,” he added.
In Los Angeles, sales rebounded for the anniversary at Theodore, a six-unit flush accoutrement chain. Volume jumped 10 percent for the week, a affecting about-face from the 8 percent bead a anniversary earlier.
“It’s adamantine to say if anybody’s in the mood,” said Herb Fink, owner. “The cartage is actual slow, but those who appear in, buy.”
Cashmere, accidental clothing, skiwear and ski-inspired accouterment are hot at Theodore. Accoutrement and added tailored accouterment are cold. The Wave and Blue System, two ski curve from St. Moritz agitated alone by Theodore in abounding areas, were acknowledged lines.
Fink said the anniversary sales advance aberration of the aftermost few years has slowed. “There’s no agitation this year,” Fink said. “People accept gotten their inventories in band with the realities of today.”
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