Jewelry Chains Post Strong Results


February 11, 2004

Jewelry Chains Post Strong Results

Quarterly sales through the end of January for three major U.S. jewelry retailers indicate a strong rebound from a year ago.

• Sterling, the U.S. division of United Kingdom-based Signet Group, reported a 7.2% comparable-store sales increase for the 13 weeks ending Jan. 31. Total sales were up 11.3%. "January was another good month, building on the trend of the Christmas period," says Terry Burman, group chief executive.
• At Whitehall Jewelers, comparable-store sales jumped 6.0% for the fourth quarter that ended Jan. 31, 2004, compared with a 4% decline for the fourth quarter of last year.
• Zale Corp., the largest fine jewelry retailer in North America, announced a comparable-store sales increase of 4.3% for the quarterly period ending Jan. 31. Total sales for the period increased 4.5%

For its fiscal year ending Jan. 31, Sterling's comparable-store sales were up 4.6%, while total sales increased 8.0%. Whitehall's comparable-store sales for the same fiscal year declined 0.6%, while total sales increased 1.1%.

In related news, the International Council of Shopping Centers reported U.S. retail sales rose 5.8% in January, based on its index of about 80 chain stores. ICSC attributed the strong numbers to continued economic good news, gift-card redemptions and cold weather sales. The boom included luxury and discount stores, which had good holiday results, and also extended to mid-market retailers, where results were weaker during the holiday season. Still, luxury stores are continuing to experience the strongest comparable sales of all retailers. Neiman Marcus posted an increase of 12.8% in same-store sales for January, with Nordstrom up 8.7% and Saks up 6.6%.



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