How Boots Gave Shoe Carnival a Sales Boost This Fall

Boots continue to be good business for Shoe Carnival Inc.

Today, the family footwear chain reported its third-quarter sales results and surpassed Wall Street expectations, with a 15 percent increase in earnings per share to 76 cents, versus analyst predictions for EPS of 59 cents.

Cliff Sifford, president and CEO of the retail firm, also highlighted other major gains during the three-month period that ended Nov. 3 — most notably that comparable-store sales increased 4.5 percent, with gains across all geographic areas and most product categories.

“That denotes the core strength of the business and our ability to react to trends in both athletic and non-athletic categories,” Sifford said on a conference call with analysts.

In particular, the retailer saw its largest sales growth in the non-athletic categories, an indication that the sneaker boom that has dominated the fashion industry in recent season may be waning. Sifford noted that all customers — women, men and kids — responded well to the store’s boot offering. “We definitely are outperforming in boots right now,” he said, adding that sales were primarily for casual styles, as weather patterns had not yet ignited demand for winter boots.

The company did, however, report that net sales for the quarter decreased 6.4 percent to $269.2 million, compared with $287.5 million in the same quarter last year. That was primarily attributed to a calendar shift that moved one week of sales into the second quarter.

Also contributing to the net sales dip were store closures. Shoe Carnival has so far closed nine doors in fiscal 2018, with plans to shutter five more in the upcoming fourth quarter, for a total of 14 locations. However, Sifford was quick to point out that there were fewer closures than initially anticipated. “When we began fiscal 2018 there was the possibility of closing 25 to 30 stores, but our team has been working hard with those stores to improve their metrics, so we’re very happy to have lowered it to just 14,” he said.

Heading into the holiday season, the company expects to benefit from three new stores that were added in Q3, and it predicted further gains from its boot selection.

Based on these latest results, the firm raised its full-year 2018 outlook once again, boosting its EPS to between $2.36-$2.38, up from the prior estimate of $2.07-$2.15. It expects net sales for the fiscal year to be around $1.02 billion, with a total comp-sales gain of 3.5 percent.

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