Shoe Carnival’s Strong Performance Is a Good Sign for Footwear Retailers

Things are feeling festive at Shoe Carnival going into the third quarter of the year.

The mid-price chain, which operates 402 stores across 35 states and Puerto Rico, followed DSW’s lead on Tuesday in beating Wall Street estimates for Q2 revenues and earnings. Executives also said August — a key month for back-to-school — was off to a strong start, with comparable sales up 7.6 percent over last year.

“We’re happy with the initial sales in the bootie category especially,” said Cliff Sifford, Shoe Carnival’s president and CEO on a call with investors and analysts, adding that the company expects these seasonal offerings to be particularly popular with shoppers, weather permitting.

For the second quarter ended Aug. 4, women’s non-athletic footwear saw double-digit gains, Stifford said, outstripping the retailer’s other categories, which were mostly up mid-single digits.

The Evansville, Indiana-based chain also raised its full-year outlook, bumping earnings per share to between $2.07-$2.15, largely above the consensus estimate of $2.08 and up from a prior view of $1.90-$2.05. Net sales increased 14.2 percent for the second quarter to $268.4 million, and comparable sales were up 6.7 percent over last year.

Christopher Svezia, SVP Footwear and Apparel Analyst at Wedbush said the results represented “a nice comp outperformance that was broad-based and at favorable margins,” and pointed to the company’s momentum as it approaches fall.

“Overall, the sector continues to see generally strong performance given favorable weather, product trends and availability — and a generally strong consumer backdrop,” Svezia told FN.

While Sifford cautioned that the Shoe Carnival customer “shops at need” and so sales of boots and booties will rely on falling temperatures, he said the company plans to have everything they want when they do.

“We made a decision going into this year that we were going to focus on key categories, the exec said. “We’ve taken the same philosophy for fall. We’re not afraid to buy in depth on key categories.”

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