Holiday Mixed For National Chains

By Alan Wolf On Jan 10 2012 - 10:07pm

NEW YORK — Holiday 2011 was a mixed bag for some of the nation’s largest retailers.

Sears Holdings pre-announced a 5.2 percent decline in combined comp sales for Sears and sister chain Kmart during its all-important fiscal fourth-quarter, ended Dec. 25. The chief culprit was consumer electronics, which accounted for fully half of Sears’ 6 percent comp decline and was a prime contributor to a 4.4 percent drop in Kmart’s comps. Major appliances were the other main drag on Sears’ seasonal performance, the company said. The poor holiday showing prompted the retailer to mark upward of 120 stores for closure, slash 2012 inventory by more than half a billion dollars, and begin reallocating floor space in underperforming departments.

Meanwhile Best Buy, which enjoyed record Black Friday sales, traffic, transactions and queues, marred a mostly “hassle-free holiday” — as promised in pre-season promotions — by canceling some Black Friday and Cyber Week web orders just days before Christmas. Less than 1 percent were unfulfilled, and affected customers received egift cards for their trouble.

Target, which described Dec. 26 as the peak day for gift card redemptions, offered up a fresh round of post- Christmas promotions, while Staples kicked off the new year by offering free shipping for all online orders through Jan. 28.

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