Apparel retailers may have enjoyed nice sales gains in Holiday 2011, but they came at the expense of profitability, according to fourth quarter financial reports released over the past several weeks.
Total sales at the top 29 apparel retailers rose 4.7% in the fourth quarter, to almost $200 billion. Removing Walmart’s results, sales rose 3.1% to $77 billion. Aggregate net income, however, fell 7,6% overall, 1.1% excluding Walmart.
The off-orice channel showed the biggest gain in profitability in the quarter, up almost 35% over the prior year. Teen specialty stores were next, at up almost 17%. Department and discount stores saw their net incomes drop, by 11% and 13%, respectively.
The retailer with the highest percentage total sales growth for the quarter was Chicos FAS, whose sales rose almost 20% and net income increased 21%. Teen retailers Zumiez, Abercrombie & Fitch, and American Eagle were also in the top five, as shown in the chart below.
Big sales losers last quarter included The Bonton, JCPenney and Aeropostale.
Saks was the big earnings winner for the period that included Holiday 2011. Net income rose 50.6% for the luxury department store. In second place was off-pricer TJX, up 42.3%. Big earnings losers in the period were JCPenney, Wet Seal, Steinmart, and Aeropostale. Gap also turned in disappointing earnings, 40% below last year, with sales down 2%.
|Retailer||Sls %||Net Inc. %||Sales||Net Inc.|
|Aber & Fitch||15.7||36.4||1,329||553|
|The Bon Ton||-10.6||-8.0||983||78|
|Tot w/o Walmart||3.1||-1.1||77,084||5,110|