The Spiegel Group reported sales of $195.3 million for the four weeks ended November 23, 2002, compared to sales of $255.2 million for the four-week period ended November 24, 2001 last year. Sales declined 23 percent, however, sales comparability to last year was adversely impacted by a shift in the calendar. Adjusting for the calendar shift, November sales declined 20 percent compared to last year. Sales for November 2002 excluded the two shopping days following Thanksgiving versus last year which included these days.
The company also reported that comparable-store sales for its Eddie Bauer division decreased 20 percent for the four-week period, primarily driven by the negative impact of the shift in the calendar. Adjusting for the calendar shift, comparable-store sales fell 6 percent for the four-week period ended November 23, 2002 compared to the four-week period ended November 17, 2001. In addition, Eddie Bauer continues to improve its gross margin rate compared to last year due to a significant reduction in promotional marketing activity.
For the 47 weeks ended November 23, 2002, total sales declined 18 percent to $1.910 billion from $2.334 billion in the same period last year and Eddie Bauer's comparable-store sales fell 14 percent compared to the same period last year.
The Group's sales results by division for November include a decline of 18 percent at Eddie Bauer, 22 percent at Newport News, and 37 percent at Spiegel Catalog. Realigning November 2001 sales to be comparable with this year, sales for Eddie Bauer and Spiegel Catalog decreased 11 percent and 35 percent, respectively. Sales results for Newport News and Spiegel Catalog reflect a significant reduction in catalog pages circulated as well as the continuing impact of the company's more-restrictive credit granting measures with regard to its private-label credit.
Sales from the Group's e-commerce channel increased 8 percent for the month compared to last year. Total direct sales declined 24 percent and the Group's retail store sales decreased 23 percent for the month versus the same period a year ago.
The company stated that inventories were down 10 percent at the end of November compared to last year, as it continues to tightly control inventory levels.
The Spiegel Group is a leading international specialty retailer marketing fashionable apparel and home furnishings to customers through catalogs, more than 570 specialty retail and outlet stores,and e-commerce sites, including eddiebauer.com, newport-news.com and spiegel.com. The Spiegel Group's businesses include Eddie Bauer, Newport News, Spiegel Catalog and First Consumers National Bank. The company's Class A Non-Voting Common Stock trades on the over-the-counter market ("Pink Sheets") under the ticker symbol: SPGLA. Investor relations information is available on The Spiegel Group Web site at http://www.thespiegelgroup.com.
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