Kohl’s, JCPenney and Urban Outfitters’ Sales Indicate an Uninspiring In-Store Holiday Season

Costco is one of the few standouts, with a 9% increase

Triptych of Kohl
Results from JCPenney, Kohl's and Urban Outfitter point to a un eventful holiday season. Getty Images
Headshot of Richard Collings

Kohl’s, JCPenney and Urban Outfitters reported comparable sales results on Thursday and today that continued to point to a lackluster holiday shopping season.

Kohl’s, more in line with the norm, reported a comparable sales decline of 0.2% for November and December, compared to a 1.2% increase for the same period a year prior. The banner said in a statement that it now expects diluted earnings per share for fiscal 2019 to be at the low end of its previously announced guidance range of $4.75 to $4.95.

Michelle Gass, Kohl’s CEO, said in a statement that softness in the women’s clothing sector offset gains in other categories. After a decline of more than 6% yesterday, Kohl’s shares are up slightly—about 1%—to $46.62 each as of midday.

Rival JCPenney, which has been in turnaround mode for several years now, reported more harrowing numbers, saying comparable sales declined 7.5% for the nine weeks leading up to Jan. 4. Excluding the retailer’s exit from large appliances and in-store home furniture, comparable sales decreased 5.3%, the company noted. The department store chain’s shares were off about 3.7% as of midday to $1.03 each.

While Urban Outfitters reported an overall comparable sales increase of 3% for the two months leading up to Dec. 31, the retailer’s shares were down about 5.1% to $26.28 each in midday trading. The company said in a statement this was due to sales for its Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters brands that were driven by promotional activity, which in turn put pressure on the company’s fourth-quarter profit margin. Notably, comparable sales for the flagship Urban Outfitters banner were down 1% while same-store sales for the Anthropologie and Free People franchises grew 5% and 8%, respectively.

Bed Bath & Beyond pulled fourth-quarter guidance, warning that sales and profits will remain under pressure, and troubled retailer Pier 1 Imports announced plans to close some 450 stores after reporting a comparable sales decline of 11.4% for the third quarter.

And in a bit of good news, a new Salesforce report shows digital sales globally grew by 8% to $723 billion between Nov. 26 and Dec. 26.


@RichCollings richard.collings@adweek.com Richard Collings is a retail reporter at Adweek.
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