Department stores show mixed results in November

New York City -- In a heavy promotional environment starring early sales and steep discounting, the department store players turned in mixed performances in November. Industry-wide retail sales on Black Friday rose 7% to $11.4 billion, the largest amount ever spent, according to ShopperTrak.

Macy’s Inc., helped in part by earlier store openings on Black Friday, reported a same-store sales rise of 4.8% in November, topping the 3.9% gain expected by Wall Street. The department store retailer’s online sales at macys.com and Bloomingdales.com rose a whopping 49.6% in November, and those results are included in Macy’s same-store revenue results.

This was the first year that Macy's stores opened at midnight on Black Friday, according to Terry Lundgren, president and CEO. Total revenue for the month rose 5.3% to $2.47 billion. Macy's maintained its fourth-quarter guidance for same-store revenue to climb 4% to 4.5%. But the company said it could exceed that forecast if November's trends continue.

J.C. Penney Co. said it wished it had opened earlier on Black Friday. The department store retailer’s same-store sales fell 2% in November, saying it was hurt by the decision to open stores at 4 a.m. on Black Friday instead of opening Thanksgiving evening at least by midnight. Analysts expected a decline of 1.6% in the month.

J.C. Penney said that total monthly revenue declined 5.9% to $1.74 billion in November. Online traffic was up 12% for the holiday weekend. J.C. Penney said that sales made on its web site from Black Friday through Cyber Monday will ship in December and be reported with its December sales figures.

In other November same-store results in the department store sector:

  • Nordstrom same-store sales rose 5.6%.
  • Kohl’s widely missed the expected 2% same-store sales rise in November with a 6.2% decline.
  • Saks reported a 9.3% gain in November.
  • Bon-Ton declined 4.9%.
  • Cato declined 5%.
  • Stage Stores same-store sales were up 2.3% in November.