J. C. Penney Company Inc comparable department store sales decreased 1.9 percent for the four weeks ended Feb. 2, 2008, compared with guidance for a mid-single digit decrease and a 3.6 percent increase in last year's January period. Total department store sales in January increased 1.7 percent on a four-week basis.
During the January period, the best merchandise performance was in the men's, women's and children's apparel divisions with home and fine jewelry being the weakest. Geographically, the best performance was in the northwest region of the country, with softer results in the southeast. Department stores performance during the month benefited from seasonal clearance activities. In addition, the Company experienced good initial response to spring merchandise assortments.
Total Direct sales increased 3.6 percent on a four-week basis compared with guidance for a mid-single digit decrease and a 1.5 percent decrease last year. Internet sales through www.jcp.com increased 19.1 percent in January on a four-week basis on top of a 23.5 percent increase last year. Internet sales were above expectations and led to improved Direct results for the month.
Including last year's 53rd week, department store sales decreased 16.3 percent and Direct sales decreased 17.7 for this year's four-week period compared to last year's five-week January period.
February Sales and Fourth Quarter Earnings Outlook: Beginning in fiscal 2008, the Company will change its sales reporting methodology to include Internet sales as part of comparable store sales performance.