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Chico’s, Abercrombie add to the retail wreck

Chico’s retail store
David Koziowski | Getty Images
Chico’s retail store

The retail collision continued Thursday, with shares of Chico's and Abercrombie sliding in the wake of worse-than-expected quarterly results.

Abercrombie fell nearly 16 percent Thursday after reporting a negative 15.9 percent surprise on earnings. The company reported earnings of negative 59 cents per share versus estimates of negative 51 cents, according to Thomson Reuters.

The Ohio-based retailer posted sales of $685.5 million, versus consensus estimates of $709.5 million. It also announced a cautious outlook going into the second quarter, expecting negative comparable same-store sales and modest gross margin deterioration.

"Our results for the quarter reflect significant traffic headwinds, particularly in international markets and in our U.S. flagship and tourist stores, resulting in negative comparable sales," CEO Arthur Martinez said, in a statement.

Currency headwinds shook other retailers this earnings season. Department stores Nordstrom, Kohl's and Macy's all saw shares slide after disappointing reports last week. Sales slowed on the strong dollar and slower mall traffic, as customers continue to shop online.

Analysts at Stifel called the shift in consumption patterns the "cannibalism of e-commerce" in a recent note. They said online shopping explains at least a portion of Abercrombie's first-quarter weakness.

Chico's shares, meanwhile, dipped more than 2.5 percent Thursday following disappointing results. Earnings per share were 25 cents versus consensus of 31 cents. Sales came in at $643 million versus consensus expectations of $668.9 million, according to Thomson Reuters.

The women's retailer, which includes White House Black Market, Soma and Boston Proper brand names, cited retail environment weakness for a decline in volumes.

Only 25 percent of Chico's brand stores are in enclosed malls, the rest are mostly destination stores. The company announced last year that it will close 120 underperforming locations, but said it is tracking customers to find out where those sales are going.

They look at what a customer would have spent, and where they eventually spent it, said Todd Vogensen, Chico's chief financial officer, on the earnings call.

"So, did it go to a nearby store? Did it go online?" Vogensen said. "We're able to see that we have a customer that is incredibly mobile and those sales can show up in places that you never would have necessarily expected in a traditional real estate model."

Source: FactSet

Chico's is also sharing that information with landlords to keep traditional stores afloat. The company is working "pretty aggressively" to understand what traffic trends are and to make sure they maintain profitability in bricks-and-mortar stores, Vogensen said.

Shares of Chico's are down more than 36 percent year over year, trading at $10.57 Thursday. Abercrombie's stock is up 5 percent year over year, but down more than 21 percent in 2016.

Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images