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Positive news from 3 struggling retailers

Three retailers that have struggled as their competition and shoppers’ tastes changed announced positive results for the holiday season.

Barnes & Noble Inc. said Thursday a key sales measure rose 1.7 percent during the holiday season as sales of physical books continued to stabilize.

It was a positive sign for Barnes & Noble, which has long struggled against tough competition from discount stores and retailers.

Sales at its retail segment, which consists of the Barnes & Noble bookstores and BN.com, were nearly flat at $1.1 billion.

The company said sales benefited from the continued stabilization of physical book sales and improvements in its educational toys and games and gifts departments.

Teen retailer American Eagle raised its earnings forecast for the fourth quarter and offered some insight into its holiday sales.

The Pittsburgh-based company said it now expects earnings of about 32 cents to 34 cents per share for the quarter, up from its previous forecast for 30 cents to 33 cents per share.

The company also said Thursday that it saw sales growth from established stores in December with fewer promotions. That’s an important measure of retailer health because it excludes results from stores that have opened or closed within the last year.

American Eagle Outfitters Inc. said its revenue from the nine-week period that ended Jan. 3 rose 1 percent to $893 million, while sales from established stores in that time frame fell 2 percent.

Teen retailers have been dealing with a changing retail environment, as shoppers head to the mall less often or opt more for fast-fashion clothing from stores like H&M and Forever 21.

Aeropostale now anticipates a smaller fourth-quarter loss than it had forecast earlier due to better-than-expected margins and expense management.

The company, which sells clothing for young women and men, said that it now foresees a quarterly loss of about 25 cents to 31 cents per share. Its prior guidance was for a loss of 37 cents to 44 cents per share.

Aeropostale also said that for the nine-week holiday period ended Jan. 3 its comparable sales — which includes online sales — fell 9 percent. This is better than the 15 percent decline it had in the year-ago period.

Total sales for the nine-week period dropped 11 percent to $507.8 million.