Signet Jewelers, the owner of the Kay Jewelers, Zales and Jared chains, reported weak holiday sales and hinted that it will speed up store closings. Sales at stores open for at least 12 months fell 1.3 percent in the nine weeks ended Jan. 5. Signet pointed to “reduced traffic during key December gifting weeks.” Its higher end Jared chain, which operates outside of malls in stand-alone stores, saw the worst of it with comparable sales down 8 percent. Signet CEO Virginia Drosos said in a statement that the company will “move decisively to improve profitability through aggressively optimizing our cost structure and continuing to right-size our store base.”
Total Retail's Take: This time of year you often see an increase in retail bankruptcies and store closures, as retailers wait for the all-important holiday sales numbers to come in before making decisions about the year ahead. It's been a rough start to 2019 for traditional brick-and-mortar retail brands, with Gymboree and Shopko having filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and Sears hanging on for dear life. In the case of Signet, the hits keep on coming. Earlier in the week, the company announced it would pay $11 million in penalties to federal and state regulators to settle charges it was opening credit-card accounts without customers’ consent at its stores. By strategically reducing its store count, Signet is counting on improving profitability in 2019.