twice connect
careers

Retail Sales On Upswing During Feb.

3/04/2005 12:34:00 PM Eastern

New York — Retail revenue gained ground last month and last quarter as renewed consumer confidence and Super Bowl sales helped offset the impact of winter storms and high fuel prices.

At Best Buy, total revenue at U.S. stores including Magnolia Audio Video was up 8 percent to $8.2 billion for the fiscal fourth quarter ended Feb. 26, and rose 11 percent to $24.6 billion for the full year. Comparable store sales were up 3.1 percent for the quarter and 4.4 percent for the year.

Comps at Best Buy’s flagship stores were up 3.1 percent for the quarter, led by the company’s 67 customer centricity locations, which posted same-store sales gains in the high single digits. The results reflect higher conversion rates and average tickets at the company’s namesake stores, which helped offset a slight decrease in traffic, an increase in inventory markdowns, and a more promotional environment, the retailer said.

Sales drivers included majaps, with company-wide comp growth in the mid-teens; MP3 players, which enjoyed triple-digit gains; as well as notebook computers and digital TVs. Revenue was also lifted by gift card and loyalty program redemptions, and by what chairman Brad Anderson described as greater “employee engagement”; a focus on customers’ unmet needs; and tailored solution selling.

Fourth quarter comps were up 1.8 percent for Magnolia, which closed two unprofitable stores during the period. The chain generated $50 million in total revenue over the three months, and now operates 20 stores throughout the Northwest.

[Fourth quarter sales for No. 2 CE chain CircuitCity were scheduled to be reported after press time and are available at www.twice.com.]

Elsewhere, Sears said net sales grew 2.2 percent in February to $1.8 billion and comps edged up 1.3 percent. CE comps slipped by the mid-single digits, while majaps, up by the low single digits, “continued their positive momentum,” CEO Alan Lacy reported.

Among the discounters, February net sales at Wal-Mart’s flagship stores grew 11.1 percent to $15.1 billion while comps gained 4.1 percent, and Target’s net sales increased 16.1 percent to $3.4 billion as comps climbed 9 percent last month.

Among the wholesale clubs, Costco’s net sales grew 9 percent in February to $3.8 billion and comps rose 5 percent; Sam’s Club’s net sales increased 5.4 percent to $2.8 billion while comps grew 4.1 percent; and BJ’s’ net sales spiked 10.4 percent to $535.9 million while comps gained 6.7 percent on strength in TVs and weakness in majaps.

Finally, Sharper Image reported a 13 percent decline in total sales last month to $45.4 million and a 20 percent drop in comp store sales due to the strong prior-year comparison and a dearth of hot new proprietary products.