Helped by frigid temperatures that boosted purchases of cold-weather clothing, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. said yesterday that sales at stores open at least a year increased 5.4 percent in December.
The Hampstead-based men's apparel retailer said total sales for the month reached $37.8 million, up 17.3 percent from the $32.2 million posted in December 2001.
"We did well in every single category," said Robert N. Wildrick, chief executive officer. The strongest sales, he said, were gift and cold weather items, such as shirts, ties, topcoats, casual coats and gloves.
In addition to the gain in same-store sales - a key measure of a retailer's performance - catalog and Internet sales combined rose 31.6 percent over December 2001.
Some of those Internet sales were the result of a partnership with Amazon.com, which began selling Bank's clothes online in November. Wildrick said the Amazon-generated sales account for only 10 percent to 15 percent of Bank's Internet business, but about 90 percent of those sales were to new customers.
Analysts said Bank has turned in a better performance than many competitors.
"I was very encouraged by their performance," said Preston Silvey, an analyst with First Dallas Securities. "It was very promotion-driven. That was what was needed to show those positive results. And the weather helped out."
Said Michael M. Via, director of research for Anderson & Strudwick Inc. in Richmond, Va.: "By and large, it was a pretty mixed bag for a lot of retailers, but Jos. Bank continues a trend that's been going on this whole year. They've been taking market share [from competitors, particularly the Men's Wearhouse]. They've been at the forefront of having the right thing on the shelf at the right time."
Bank also benefits from a comparison with last year, when sales at stores open at least a year were down 6.7 percent because shoppers stayed home after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Via said. Via's firm is a market maker in Bank's stock, meaning it buys and sells the stock to facilitate its trading.
For the first 11 months of its fiscal year, Bank's sales reached $228.1 million, up from $198.2 million the year before.
"We seem to have a formula for doing well in a weak economy," Wildrick said. "In a weak economy, customers want great value for their money."
Analysts expect the company to report $1.41 a share for the 2002 fiscal year, up from $1.05 in 2001. For this year, analysts predict earnings per share of $1.65 to $1.69.
Part of the increase in earnings will come from the opening of stores this year, Via said. Bank has 160 stores in 30 states and is planning to open another 50 stores this year.
The retailer's stock rose yesterday $1.02 a share to $23.22 on the Nasdaq stock market.