Pier 1's December sales climb 11.3 pct

December sales soar at high-end decorator Pier 1, driven by higher traffic

Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- Pier 1 Imports Inc. said Thursday that revenue at stores open at least a year climbed 11.3 percent in December, driven by a greater number of shoppers who spent more on each visit.

The gain topped the 10.3 percent rise in the same month a year ago. Revenue at stores open at least a year is a key indicator of a retailer's health, because it excludes the impact of stores that were recently opened or closed.

The high-end home decorating store said sales remained strong throughout the month, including the week after Christmas, in every region. December is an especially crucial month for retailers because of the holiday shopping season. Companies routinely rely on the last two months of the year to make up for weakness during other seasons.

Pier 1 said it expects its merchandise margin for the fourth quarter, which includes all of December and ends in late February, to be 59 percent. The company said this was in line with previous predictions. That would be an improvement from last year's fourth-quarter merchandise margin of 58.4 percent. Higher margins can be a key indicator of a retailer's profitability, because they can signal that a company hasn't had to slash prices too drastically.

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