Nordstrom's holiday sales up 2.5 percent, boosted by its Rack stores

Key Points
  • Nordstrom said its net sales climbed 2.5 percent, while same-store sales rose 1.2 percent during November and December.
  • The department store chain joined other retailers in raising its fiscal 2017 earnings and sales forecast.
Nordstrom holiday season comps up 1.2%

Nordstrom on Tuesday joined a growing list of retailers — including Macy's, J.C. Penney and Kohl's — reporting a strong holiday season, boosted by greater consumer confidence, lower unemployment and increased wages.

The department store chain said its net sales climbed 2.5 percent, while same-store sales rose 1.2 percent for the nine weeks ended Dec. 30, 2017, when compared with the same period a year ago.

Same-store sales at Nordstrom's off-price Rack division, which has stumbled in recent months, climbed 2.9 percent, while net sales at Rack stores were up 8.2 percent during November and December, the company said. Same-store sales at its full-line department stores were up 1 percent during that period.

The retailer's shares edged down slightly in after-hours trading Tuesday following the report.

Nordstrom said its e-commerce division also continued to grow through the holidays, though it didn't break out revenue for that segment.

Based on its strong holiday results, Nordstrom updated its fiscal 2017 outlook and is now calling for net sales to increase 4.2 percent, and for comparable sales to climb about 0.5 percent overall.

Nordstrom expects full-year adjusted earnings per share to fall within a range of $2.90 to $2.95, compared with a prior range of $2.85 to $2.95. The company said these adjustments don't yet incorporate any impact from the new U.S. tax laws.

The news comes just a day after Nordstrom announced the president of its Rack division, Karen McKibbin, would be retiring in March, having worked at the company for three decades. McKibbin will be succeeded by another Nordstrom executive, Geevy Thomas, who currently serves as chief innovation officer.

A large share of Nordstrom's growth of late has stemmed from Rack, where shoppers are looking for more of a "treasure hunt" experience. Bargain-hungry shoppers have been favoring shopping at Rack and rival off-price stores such as TJ Maxx to snag a good deal instead of buying apparel at department stores. But during the third-quarter same-store sales at Nordstrom Rack dropped 5 percent, reversing previous trends.

Meantime, the right mix of holiday sales could seal Nordstrom's fate, as its recent attempt to go private may hinge on those metrics being just right, sources have told CNBC. While Nordstrom wanted to perform well this holiday season, there was some concern that delivering too strongly could boost its stock price and edge the price out of financing range.

Nordstrom shares have climbed about 6 percent from a year ago. The company is set to report fourth-quarter and full-year results on March 1.

— CNBC's Lauren Hirsch contributed to this report.