US retailers reporting weak 2013 holiday season results

By John Biers, AFP

NEW YORK–Victoria’s Secret parent L Brands and home decor chain Pier 1 Imports joined other retailers in slashing profit forecasts Thursday following disappointing holiday sales. The two cited heavy discounting, higher marketing costs and poor weather over the late-November to December gift-buying season in the United States. L Brands, which also owns the Bath & Body Works chain, said comparable store sales increased just 2 percent during a five-week holiday period ending Jan. 4. It cited “incremental promotional activity” that depressed profit margins.

Pier 1 said comparable stores sales for December sank 5.7 percent, due mainly to bad weather that depressed store traffic. “Our holiday assortments were excellent and our execution both in-store and online was first class – making it all the more upsetting to have our results impacted by forces beyond our control,” said chief executive Alex Smith.