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Furniture And Bedding Boost Conn’s October Comps

Furniture and mattresses proved to be a same-store-sales salvation for Conn’s last month.

The combined category, up 9.7 percent, saved the company’s October comps from being more of a trick than a treat, with every other product sector posting year-over-year declines.

Recently named president/CEO Norman Miller said the Texas-based chain saw a “softening sales performance” in markets that are more heavily dependent on the oil industry, while the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) also reported a tech-spending lull in October.

Indeed, Conn’s CE business in particular took it on the chin last month, as its decision to exit video gaming and digital imaging (as well as select tablets) prompted a nearly 12 percent comp decline for the category.

Excluding the impact of the jettisoned products, CE comps decreased 2.9 percent and total same-store sales increased 1.7 percent, rather than the posted 2 percent decline.

Total comps fell 4.4 percent in October 2014, and were flat for the most recent third quarter.

Within CE, TV comps dipped 3.5 percent due to lower unit volume, partially offset by higher average selling prices (ASPs) as the chain sold proportionately more Ultra HD TVs, Miller said.

The loss of certain tablets also took a toll on home office, where comps declined 9.7 percent, but rose 2 percent excluding their impact, due to higher unit sales that helped offset lower ASPs.

Majap comps too were down, by 2.4 percent year over year, reflecting lower unit sales and flat ASPs.

Up were repair service agreement commissions, by 0.9 percent, but also 60-day-plus delinquencies on its in-house consumer financing, which edged up 0.2 percent, to 10.2 percent year over year.

Late payments and increased provisions for bad debts have taken an earnings toll on the company, leading to a recent overhaul of its credit operation and the change in the corner office.

The 125-year-old business, which operates 100 stores across 12 states, also recently amended an $810 million asset-based revolving credit facility, to the resounding approval of Wall Street.