Major Retailers Post September Sales Increases

By Alan Wolf On Oct 13 2003 - 6:00am

Reflecting the nascent economic recovery, retail sales gained traction last month as mass merchants enjoyed solid gains and A/V specialist Tweeter Home Entertainment Group reported flat annual and fourth-quarter revenues.

Among full-line retailers, Sears said total sales for the five weeks ended Oct. 4 rose 3.5 percent to $2.5 billion and comp store sales rose 3.2 percent. CEO Alan Lacy described white goods' low single-digit percentage gain as a "solid increase" that contributed to the positive results, although consumer electronics continued their slump, falling by the high single digits.

Among discount chains, net sales at Wal-Mart's flagship stores for the five weeks ended Oct. 3 rose 12.7 percent to $15.9 billion, while same store sales rose 5.6 percent. Net sales at Target's flagship stores rose 14.8 percent to $3.4 billion for the five weeks ended Oct. 4, while comp sales grew 7.2 percent.

Among the warehouse clubs, Costco said total sales for the five weeks ended Oct. 5 grew 13 percent to $4 billion, while company-wide comps gained 10 percent. Wal-Mart's Sam's Club saw net sales rise 11.8 percent to $3.2 billion for the five weeks ended Oct. 3, while comps rose 8.2 percent, and BJ's Wholesale Club said net sales rose 20.2 percent to $606.4 million for the five weeks ended Oct. 4, while comps gained 12.4 percent.

Meanwhile 12-month net sales for Tweeter decreased 1.3 percent to $786 million for the full fiscal year, ended Sept. 30, 2003, while comparable store sales declined 9.9 percent.

Net sales for Tweeter's fiscal fourth quarter, ended Sept. 30, remained flat at $183 million, while same-store sales fell 6.8 percent, representing the 10th consecutive quarter of comp store declines.

The specialty chain broke with tradition by not breaking out performance by category, although it noted that it achieved a previously announced goal of reducing discontinued and open-box inventory from 17 percent to less than 10 percent of inventory during August and September.

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