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How's business? More retailers say wait until the quarter

Fred O'Connor | March 8, 2011
In an effort to get investors to focus on long-term results, retailers are no longer issuing monthly sales figures

But if companies think that eliminating the monthly reports may "eliminate some volatility," Samuels believes that approach may have the very opposite effect. "Initially, I think you may get more because you are adding uncertainty," he explains.

Helping decrease that uncertainty actually prompted Macy's to return to publicly issuing same-store sales data, after stopping the practice at the start of 2008's fiscal year. "We really do believe that monthly sales encourage short-term evaluation," says Jim Sluzewski, senior vice president, corporate communications & external affairs. "Monthly sales are often misunderstood." After the "bottom dropped out of the economy," he adds, Macy's in October started providing the data again "to give investors clarity into the business given the huge macroeconomic shift." Macy's didn't reply to a request for information about the role of the company's CFO in its decision to stop, and then to resume, providing monthly sales information.

Although Macy's may have returned to the practice, Kantar's Hermanson doubts whether an improved economy will get other companies to follow suit -- unless the largest retailers making the first move.

"It's possible, but it might take Wal-Mart to get back into the game and pulling other competitors into it," he says. "The more retailers that stop reporting, the less other retailers feel pressure to report."


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