Dillard’s Outperforms Competitors, Finishes Year With A Burst

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 107 views 

Upscale mall retailer Dillard’s, Inc. ended the year on a high note.

A strong final month of holiday sales boosted the Little Rock-based department store chain’s total sales increase for 2011.

Merchandise sales for Dillard’s was $1.109 billion in December, up roughly 3% from one year ago when the company reported December sales of $1.079 billion.

Same-store sales — a key metric for gauging retail sales health — increased 4% during the month compared to one year ago.  Same-store sales, or comp sales, compares sales in stores open at least one year to their previous year’s performance. Stores opened within the last year are not counted in same-store sales performance.

For the full year, Dillard’s sales were $5.835 billion, a 3% increase versus last year’s overall sales of $5.654 billion. Same-store sales for the full year were up 4%.

Dillard’s offers little insight or commentary on its sales figures, other than regional trends and merchandise categories. The company said that shoes and cosmetic sales were “above trend” during December, while home and furniture sales were “significantly below trend”.

Dillard’s (NYSE:DDS) shares closed trading on Wednesday at $43.03.

Many national retailers reported weaker sales gains during December and some could pay a heavy price.

Retailers wooed customers into stores with steep discounts, which boosted sales figures, but hurt profitability, according to several industry analysts.

Target, the nation’s second largest retailer, said it would cut its earnings outlook as it reported a slim same-store sales increase of 1.6%.

“December sales were below our expectations,” said Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel. “In 2012, we’ll continue to pursue initiatives designed to deliver compelling value and a superior shopping experience against the backdrop of continued slow and volatile economic growth.”

Mall retailer J.C. Penney also saw a weak December same-store sales increase, just 0.3%.  Total company sales fell 2.3% during the month.

One year ago, J.C. Penney reported a 3.7% increase in same-store sales during the holiday season.

Iconic retailer Sears may have had the lousiest holiday shopping season. The Chicago-based department chain announced on Dec. 27 that it would close as many as 120 U.S. locations after same-store sales slipped 5.2% in the combined months of November and December.  No Arkansas stores have been initially targeted for closure in the first round of cuts.