Cost Plus November Comp Sales Grow 4.9%

Third-quarter sales at Cost Plus were down 10.4% when compared to the same quarter the previous year, but the company reported a nearly 5% jump in comparable stores sales for November.

According to the company, third-quarter nets sales were $181.9 million, down from sales of $203 million in the third quarter the previous year. Same store sales for the quarter decreased 9.1% compared to a decrease of 3.4% last year and were within guidance which was in the range of a 6.0% to 11.0% decrease.

The decrease in same store sales was attributable to an 8.8% reduction in the average ticket per customer primarily due to lower furniture sales and a relatively flat customer count compared to last year, company officials said.

Year-to-date, net sales were $549.5 million, a 10.7% decrease from the same period last year, while same store sales decreased 9.6% compared to a decrease of 0.6% for the same period last year.

“Our third quarter performance reflected progressively improving month-to-month sales trends and a reduction in losses year-over-year,” said Barry Feld, president/CEO. “We have disclosed monthly same store sales figures through November to illustrate the positive changes we have experienced as our business shifts toward seasonal décor and holiday entertaining.”

He continued, “The achievement of positive same store sales in November reflects the use of layered alternative media campaigns designed to increase brand awareness and drive new customers into our stores. The new media, which included promotional offers, drove a double digit comp increase in customer count for the month. While the strategic use of promotional offers had a negative impact on margin rate, the resulting margin dollars and new customer trial were greater than what the recent trend of the business would have yielded. The initial results have exceeded our expectations and bode well for the balance of the fourth quarter and into fiscal 2010 as we continue to refine our marketing and merchandising strategy.”

For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009, the company expects net sales in the range of $314 million to $330 million, based on same store sales in the range of a 4% decrease to a 1% increase. The company is expecting a year-over-year decrease in January sales since it will not repeat the inventory clearance event that occurred in January last year that generated strong temporary traffic increases.