Bon-Ton same store sales down 3.1 percent over holidays

Total sales down $32.3 million

Bon-Ton
Bon-Ton will liquidate.

The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. on Wednesday reported a $32.3 million drop in total sales during the holiday season and a 3.1 percent decline in same store sales.

Bon-Ton
The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. headquarters in downtown Milwaukee.

The company reported total sales of $752.1 million during the nine-week holiday period ending Dec. 31, a 4.1 percent drop from the previous year. The same stores figure matched the guidance offered by the company in November.

Men’s big and tall, furniture, women’s outerwear and intimate apparel were among the best performing categories during the holiday season.

“Following challenging sales trends in the first three weeks of November, business improved from Thanksgiving through the end of December,” said Kathryn Bufano, Bon-Ton president and chief executive officer.

She said the company’s merchandising initiatives are gaining traction, despite weak mall traffic trends. Bufano also highlighted double digit growth in the company’s omnichannel business, including on mobile.

Bufano said Bon-Ton would maintain its full-year guidance, which was lowered in November to a loss of $2.04 to $2.54 per share, but said the company expects to be at the low end of the range.

The holiday sales results came one day after the city of Milwaukee released a proposal calling for $1.9 million in city funds to go towards a $4 million refurbishing of the Bon-Ton office space at 331 W. Wisconsin Ave. The plan would commit Bon-Ton to downtown for another 10 years and help keep 750 jobs in the city.

Bon-Ton also wasn’t the only retailer to have a down holiday season.

Menomonee Falls-based Kohl’s Corp. reported last week that comparable sales were down 2.1 percent and total sales were down 2.7 percent. Kohl’s lowered its full-year guidance on the results to an earnings range of $2.92 to $2.97 per share, an 8.5 percent drop from its previous midpoint.

Also last week, Sears Holdings Corp. announced it was closing 108 Kmart stores, including one in Racine, and 42 Sears stores nationwide. Macy’s announced it would close 68 locations, including one in La Crosse.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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