Nordstrom Offers Glimmer of Hope for Battered Retail Sector

Nordstrom Inc. offered a glimmer of hope on Thursday for a battered retail sector.

The department store chain, which reported its third-quarter financial report after market close, filed earnings per diluted share of 81 cents — besting Wall Street’s forecasts of earnings per share of 64 cents. Profits were $126 million, compared with $67 million for the same period in 2018, and revenues decreased 2% to $3.67 billion but met analysts’ bets.

At 4:30 p.m. ET, shares for the retailer were up more than 10% to $38.08.

In a statement, Nordstrom noted improvements in its loyalty program, digital marketing efforts and merchandise assortment. The firm touted its anniversary shopping event, which it said boosted margins, and shared that its off-price business also delivered positive sales and earnings growth.

“Our third-quarter earnings exceeded expectations, demonstrating substantial progress in the delivery of our strategy and strength of our operating discipline,” co-president Erik Nordstrom said. “Through our customer focus, we drove broad-based improvement in top-line trends.”

Nordstrom also made headlines in mid-October with the debut of its 320,000-square-foot women’s flagship on New York’s 57th Street, just steps away from Central Park and directly across the street from its men’s outpost. Its third-quarter report cited 85,000 visits during the first weekend alone as well as a sales lift at its men’s store.

“We achieved an important milestone with the opening of our New York City flagship store, significantly increasing our presence in the world’s top retail market,” Nordstrom added. “It’s a culmination of efforts across many teams, and we are grateful for their dedication and passion in bringing this store to life.”

For the full year, the Seattle-based retailer upwardly revised its earnings per diluted share outlook of $3.30 to $3.50, compared with the prior guidance of $3.25 to $3.50. “The impact of tariffs is not expected to be material for the year,” it added.

Despite a failed go-private attempt as well as some unevenness in the chain’s business over the past years, Nordstrom had mostly outperformed many of its peers amid a supposed retail apocalypse and wider industry disruption that peaked around 2017. Department store competitors including Kohl’s and Macy’s recently posted disappointing third-quarter reports ahead of the critical holiday shopping period.

Nordstrom has often been lauded for its innovative concepts and omnichannel savvy, including its pioneering of “buy online, pick up in store,” a revamped loyalty program and experiential store offerings.

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