February 7, 2003
Retail Sales Rise in January;
Jewelry Helps Some Stores
The Salomon Smith Barney Index of 50 U.S. retailers says January sales at stores open at least a year rose 1.4% compared to last year, reports the Wall Street Journal. January is traditionally the lowest volume month for many retailers, says WSJ, because consumers tend to curtail post-holiday spending. Stores also find it difficult to move full-priced spring merchandise during cold winters. In January 2002, sales rose 4.6% from 2001.
Higher-end department stores Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom saw increases of 2% and O.8%, beating most other department stores chains, which suffered declines. The Neiman Marcus Group's Specialty Retail Stores segment, which includes Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus Direct, says designer jewelry was among its top merchandise categories.
Sales at Sears were down 8% and J.C. Penney fell almost 4%, though it said its fine jewelry department posted increases. J.C. Penney announces it will expand and upgrade its accessories business, including new lines of branded sterling silver jewelry.
by Peggy Jo Donahue