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Department stores off in May, but most beat Street


New York City J.C. Penney Co. said Thursday that its comparable-store sales decreased 8.2% in May, but beat expectations. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected sales at the department store chain to sink 9.6% for the four weeks ending May 30.

Among the chain’s best categories were the spring items in its women's division. The fine-jewelry department fared the worst as consumers continued to cut back on big purchases.

For the year, J.C. Penney said its same-store sales are down 7.7%. Sales so far this year have fallen 6.1% to $5.14 billion.

Kohl's Corp. said Thursday that its same-store sales fell 0.4% in May, but that was still less than the 3.8% fall analysts expected.

Net sales rose 4.1% to $1.26 billion for the month.

Chief executive Kevin Mansell said May's results were better than expected, with particular strength in accessories.

So far this year, Kohl’s total sales rose 1.3%, and same-store sales declined 3.2%.

In the luxury segment, Saks said Thursday its same-store sales tumbled 26.6% in May.

The company reported weak sales in every merchandise category at its namesake stores, and said it was hurt by moving a designer sale event, held in May last year, into June this year. It also said sales at Saks Direct and Off 5th, the company's outlet chain, "showed relative strength" during the month.

Nordstrom said Thursday its same-store sales fell 13.1% in May. Analysts had predicted a 12.7% decrease.

The company's namesake chain reported a same-store sales drop of 16.7%. Nordstrom Rack, the company's outlet chain, fared better, with same-store sales rising 2.2% for the month.

In other department store results:

  • Macy's said that its May same-store sales slipped 9.1%, not quite as much as Wall Street expected.

  • Dillard's said Thursday that same-store sales dropped by 12% in May, worse than the Street predicted, as consumers scaled back on spending.

  • Bon-Ton Stores said Thursday its comparable sales fell 12.1% in May as it experienced soft sales in furniture, men's, home and ladies' shoes.

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