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Major dept stores see better September than last


NEW YORK, N.Y. Saks, JCPenney and Macy’s report decreased September sales, though not as bad as the year before.

Saks announced that owned sales totaled $242.1 million for the five weeks ended Oct. 3 compared with $269.6 million for the five weeks ended Oct. 4 the prior year, a 10.2% decrease. Comparable-store sales decreased 11.6% for the month.

Management continues to estimate that comparable-store sales will decline in the mid-to-high single digit range for second half fiscal 2009 with the third quarter weaker than the fourth quarter.

JCPenney reported comparable store sales for the five-week period ended Oct. 3, and raised its earnings guidance for third quarter. Comparable store sales in September decreased 1.4%, better than the company’s guidance for sales to decrease 3% to 6%. In last year’s September period, comparable-store sales decreased 12.4%. Total company sales in September decreased 0.6%.

Management’s guidance for the four-week period ending Oct. 31, is for a 5 to 8% decrease in comparable store sales, compared with a 13% decrease in last year’s October period. Based on better than expected gross margin improvement during the first two months of the quarter, management now expects to report third quarter earnings of 3 cents to 10 cents per share compared with previous guidance for earnings to be in the range of a loss of 5 cents to earnings of 5 cents per share.

Macy’s reported total sales of $2.04 billion for the five weeks ended Oct. 3, a decrease of 2.4% compared with total sales of $2.093 billion in the five weeks ended Oct. 4 the prior year. On a same-store basis, Macy’s. sales were down 2.3% in September.

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