Zale Reports Sales Down; Other Big Retailers Up Slightly

December 27, 2000

Zale Reports Sales Down; Other Big Retailers Up Slightly

Zale Corp., North America's largest specialty jewelry retailer, said yesterday its sales for November and December are expected to be below expectations. The Dallas-based retailer expects same-store sales to fall 3%-4% for November and December combined, with sales for the period estimated at $750 million to $760 million.

Overall, other forecasters predict holiday sales will be up, but not as much as last year. "Perhaps the biggest obstacle facing retailers was the enormous strength of last year's sales, which got a boost from the red-hot economy and millennium expectations," The Wall Street Journal reports.

A variety of big retailers reported sales gains that fell short of expectations, including Wal-Mart, Target and Federated Department Stores, owner of Macy's and Bloomingdale's. TeleCheck Services, which tracks consumer spending habits, says U.S. same-store sales rose a modest 3.1% from last year during this holiday shopping season. In addition, Kurt Barnard, president of Barnard's Retail Trend Report, predicts the average U.S. retailer will post a 3% gain in same-store sales, compared with 6%-6.5% in 1999.

Ironically, mall traffic was up 16% from last year on the Saturday before Christmas, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation and RCT Systems. Traffic on the day after Christmas was lighter than expected, but it's expected to pick up throughout the week, reports John Konarski, vice president of research at The International Council of Shopping Centers. Konarski told the Associated Press sales generated this week could give stores the final push to make their revenue goals for the season. Retail analysts predict the seven days after Christmas could account for anywhere from 11%-15% of holiday sales, AP reports.

- by Peggy Jo Donahue