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Nordstrom suffers severe holiday slump

By Damon Marturion
New Business News Staff Writer

Seattle, WA -- Like many other brick-and-mortar businesses, Nordstrom was unable to pull holiday numbers out of their hat in the last minute holiday blitz. Projections could be of by as much as 53 percent.

Shares of Nordstrom Inc. slipped better than 6 percent out of the gate Friday after the retailer warned that fourth-quarter results would fall far short of expectations. Nordstrom's same-store sales tumbled 2.9 percent while preliminary sales for December rose 5.6 percent to $736.8 million over the same period last year.

"December performance was disappointing, and it represents a large portion of our business for the fourth quarter," Blake Nordstrom, president of the company, acknowledged.

"Our challenge is to compete successfully regardless of the external environment, and to improve merchandise execution so we have what our customers are looking for," he added.

As investors begin to pull-back from retail stocks, Nordstrom estimated that fourth-quarter earnings will fall in the 18- to 23-cents-a-share range. The consensus of analysts' estimates, as reported to First Call Corp., stood at 38 cents early Friday.

Nordstrom led the pack of retailers in friday's market slowdown as the S&P Retail Index opened sharply lower as investors absorbed the weak holiday sales reports that have been gushing out since Wednesday. In early trading, the Index was off 15.50, or 1.7 percent, to 886.18.

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