The American consumer is cutting back on retail items, we all know that. But which areas are being hardest hit? Which are doing well? In a nutshell: Jewelry sales are down, while food and apparel sales are up. This means that some food and clothing manufacturers may be weathering this downturn just fine, while jewelry sellers may find the worst is yet to come.
Definitely no on flat screen TV’s. You know, jewelry’s an important element of our merchandise mix. It’s a significant contributor to sales all year and at holiday it’s a significantly larger contributor. Not surprisingly, fine jewelry this year given the economic environment has not been a high growth classification so we’re not planning it to be high gross classification at the holiday either.
J. C. Penney continues its leadership position in apparel, where our sales trends have been stronger than our competitors. For the third quarter women’s and children’s apparel and family shoes were our best performing divisions. By contrast, and consistent with both our recent results and those of the industry, our fine jewelry and home divisions continue to be our weakest businesses.
Food and consumable categories dominated Sam's comp sales growth for the quarter. Highlights included strong sales in grocery, fresh, pets, and baby care. Our members are clearly making choices today on how they spend and those choices are clearly weighted toward everyday necessities and away from more discretionary purchases. This is manifesting itself in continuing softer general merchandise sales including in fine jewelry, electronics, and house wares. Apparel, however, was a bright spot for the quarter.