14 Retailers Buck the Trend with Strong Growth

Superstar retailers are bucking the trend of a gyrating market by winning wallet share, reporting record financial growth and announcing ambitious plans for store expansion. High-performing retailers are providing a ray of hope to a recession-weary industry as they continue to invest in new technologies, open new stores, boost sales of private label merchandise and increase promotions. Fourteen retailers including CVS, True Religion Apparel, GameStop and Cabela's unveil their recipes for success.

Buckle: Teen apparel and accessories retailer announced that same store sales jumped 14.7 percent in January 2009. Net sales for the four week fiscal month ended January 31, 2009 increased 23.1 percent to $48.0 million from net sales of $39.0 million for the prior year four-week fiscal month ended February 2, 2008.

Cabela's: The outdoors retailer reported that same store sales increased 2.2 percent for its fourth quarter 2008. "We are excited about our fourth quarter performance where we recorded our largest increase in same store sales in over a year," said Dennis Highby, president and CEO, Cabela's. "Our improved retail execution with a particular emphasis on sales of firearms and related accessories, along with an aggressive merchandise strategy to take market share, increase inventory turns and improve cash flow, is working."

CVS: Drugstore retailer and pharmacy announced that sales climbed 10 percent to $24.14 billion in its fourth quarter ended December 31, 2008. The retailer attributed its strong sales to its line of CVS branded merchandise. For the quarter, CVS opened 52 new retail pharmacy stores, acquired 529 Longs Drugs retail stores, closed six retail pharmacy stores and relocated seven others.

Delhaize Group: The Belgian parent company of Food Lion announced fourth-quarter sales growth by rolling out store brands and offering steep sales. Comparable-store sales in the United States rose 2.9 percent in the quarter. According to Chief Executive Pierre-Olivier Beckers shoppers turned to Food Lion for inexpensive, private-brand material. The company plans to reinvest in its cost-cutting program so Food Lion can keep prices low in 2009.

Dollar General: The dollar chain reported that sales jumped to $2.85 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008, a double-digit increase of 11.2 percent from the $2.56 billion reported in the same quarter a year ago. The chain's same-store sales also jumped 9.4 percent during the quarter. The retailer opened 207 new stores in fiscal 2008 and plans to accelerate store openings with 450 new stores projected to open in fiscal 2009.

Dollar Tree: The discount retailer reported that its fourth quarter sales jumped 6.8 percent to $1.39 billion, compared to $1.3 billion reported in that same quarter last year. The store, which sells almost all merchandise for $1, continues to attract consumers that are "trading down" and in search for bargains on anything from beauty supplies to seasonal merchandise.

GameStop: The video games retailer reported a 24 percent increase in sales for 2008 and forecasts continued growth in its future. Bringing in $3.5 billion in the 2008 fourth quarter alone, GameStop reached $8.8 billion in total sales last year as compared to $7.1 billion in 2007. GameStop plans to open over 400 new retail outlets in the coming year, adding to the company's already staggering 6,207 stores in 17 countries worldwide.

Hot Topic: Mall and Web-based specialty retailer announced that January 2009 sales rose $44.8 million, up 8.4 percent from last year. The retailer, which operates under the Hot Topic and Torrid banners, also reported that comp store sales were up 6 percent in January.

Loblaw: The grocer reported that fourth quarter sales rose 11.2 percent to $7.75 billion compared to $6.97 billion reported in the same period last year. Lower-than-expected restructuring costs provided a boost, as did the $22-million sale of Loblaw's food services business. "Our fourth quarter performance demonstrated that we are continuing to edge forward," said Galen Weston, chairman of Loblaw.

Safeway: The U.S. grocer reported that sales increased 4.3 percent to $44.1 billion in 2008 from $42.3 billion in 2007 primarily because of the additional week in fiscal 2008, increased fuel sales and identical-store sales increases. "We are stepping up our efforts to provide increased value to our customers by lowering prices on everyday items, while continuing to provide quality perishables and great service," said Steve Burd, chairman, president and CEO, Safeway.

Tractor Supply: The farm and ranch store chain reported that fourth quarter sales experienced double-digit increases of 10.5 percent and that sales increased to $799.5 million from $723.3 million in the prior year's fourth quarter. Same-store sales increased 1.3 percent compared with a 3.8 percent gain in the prior year's fourth quarter. Same-store sales growth was primarily driven by core consumable categories, including animal and pet-related products, clothing and footwear.

True Religion Apparel: Hot apparel retailer announced that full year 2008 net sales increased 55.8 percent to $270.0 million. The company plans to open 22 new stores by the end of 2009 for a total of 67 branded retail stores. "We attribute our strong performance to our ability to successfully leverage our expanding product collection across distribution channels to satisfy the growing worldwide demand for True Religion apparel," said Jeffrey Lubell, chairman, CEO and creative director, True Religion Apparel.

Urban Outfitters: Lifestyle specialty chain reported a record breaking fourth quarter and announced that sales increased 22 percent, to a record $1.8 billion for the year ended January 31, 2009. The retailer largely attributed its success to its direct-to-consumer unit which helped fuel record sales of $508 million in its fourth quarter. Direct-to-consumer sales surged 32 percent.

Weis Markets: Supermarket retailer announced that sales increased 2.7 percent to $619.4 million while same store sales grew 2.2 percent in its fourth quarter of 2008. "Our fourth quarter sales and net income increases were due to the success of our targeted promotional and transaction building programs combined with key improvements in our store operating practices and increased efficiencies at store and distribution levels," says David J. Hepfinger, CEO and president, Weis Markets.

To view our continuing coverage on other recent retail success stories see:

Amazon Reports Best Quarter Ever: 10 Other Retailers Post Big Gains

Beating the Odds: 10 Retailers Rack up Big Gains Heading into 2009

10 Superstars of Retailing Beat the Downturn

Surprising Success: 10 Retailers Continue to Grow in Tough Times
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