Retail Recovery: Solid 4th-Quarter Earnings from Saks, Macy’s

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Victor J. Blue / Bloomberg via Getty Images

The holiday season might seem like the distant past, but fourth quarter earnings numbers released yesterday prove that top retailers adapted remarkably to lackluster sales that plagued most of last year.

Saks Fifth Avenue is one of the few luxury brands to report higher revenue. The high-end department store reported one of the highest revenue gains to $925.1 million, an increase of 6.8%. The store saw a 7.7% rise in same-store sales from the previous quarter and experienced solid online sales. Saks is benefiting from a rebounding luxury market. The New York Times attributed Saks’ growth to sales in fine jewelry, fragrances and men’s accessories.

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Macy’s was not far behind. Revenue for the country’s top department store climbed to $872 billion, an increase of 5%. Same-store sales rose 5.2%. Online sales rose 40% from the same time last year. Promotions (and lower margins) played a role in its sales boost. For several years, the retailer with about 810 stores in 45 states has been reinventing itself as a destination for shoppers looking for deals and bargains. It also has tailored its inventory to reflect the demands of shoppers in specific geographic regions. One analyst told The New York Times that the sales boost resulted from the store’s “markdowns on cold weather gear.”

There were other standouts. Shoe designer Steve Madden boasted the highest revenue increase of 74% to $279.8 million. Same-store sales rose 15.9% percent. The retailer operates about 85 stores and acquired several footwear companies last year. Home Depot experienced its ninth quarter of double digit growth, with revenue reaching $16.01 billion, up 6%. Walmart only saw a 1.5% increase in same-store sales, but revenue managed to go up 5.8% to $122.28 billion.

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The figures aren’t surprising. The economy is recovering at a tepid pace. But most indicators demonstrate that it is healthier than it has been in quite some time and the retail figures from the 2011 holiday season only reflect this reality.