Retail Sales Reports Mixed

November 8, 2002

Retail Sales Reports Mixed

There was some good news and a little bad news among the major retailers reporting quarterly and yearly sales figures this fall.

Sterling, the U.S. branch of U.K.-based Signet, reported same-store sales for the third quarter ended Nov. 2 were up almost 5% from the same period last year. Total sales were up 10.3% from last year at a constant exchange rate. For the fiscal year to date, Sterling's same-store sales are up 6.2% and total sales are up 10.1% over 2001. Sterling attributed the increases to new marketing and merchandising programs. Group Chief Executive Terry Burman said that the U.S. division's growth should continue in the fourth quarter because it will be "supported by an increase in marketing activity and a number of new product initiatives." Sterling operates over 1,000 stores in the U.S., through its Kay Jewelers and Jared divisions, and other regional names.

Zale Corp., Dallas, TX, reported comparable-store sales for the first quarter ended Oct. 31 decreased 0.6% from last year. Total revenues increased 0.5% over 2001's first quarter. Zale has nearly 3,000 retail locations throughout North America and Puerto Rico, and does business online. Its brands include Zales, Gordon's Jewelers, Bailey Banks & Biddle Fine Jewelers, Peoples Jewellers, Mappins Jewellers and Piercing Pagoda.

In other sales reports from jewelry chains:
• Whitehall Jewelers reported comparable-store sales for the third quarter ended Oct. 31 dropped 6.4% from the same period in 2001, with total sales decreasing 5.1%.
• Crescent Jewelers said comparable-store sales for the fiscal year ended July 27, dropped 0.6% from last year. There was a net sales increase of 0.8%.
• Friedmanšs comparable-store sales for the fiscal year ended Sept. 28 rose 3.5% over last year, with net sales up 6.1%.

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