A handful of retailers have reported Q4 thus far and the overwhelming theme is almost all department stores and outlets had a difficult Q4. Declines in same store sales were reported by Dillards, Macy's and Saks while some of the outlets posted positive sales results year over year.
Department Store / Outlet Q4 2015 Comp Sales
*Includes license businesses. Excluding license businesses, comp of -4.8%.
Sales are one part of the story. When looking at the gross margin for each sales report, it is evident that many of the retailers drove sales through aggressive price markdowns.
Department Store / Outlet Q4 2015 Margin Comp (bps)
JC Penney and Marmaxx (TJX) are the only retailers reviewed that grew both sales and profitability on a gross margin basis. Everyone one of the calls outlined a rosier Q1 with Spring starting early. With continued pressure on spending and increased spending on big ticket items like autos and furniture, I can't see how Q1 won't lead to continued troubles for many of the aforementioned retailers.