January 30, 2001, 5:16 PM

Web sales star in otherwise sluggish Eddie Bauer performance

Don Davis

Editor in Chief

E-commerce sales were one of the bright spots in figures released this week by the Spiegel Group. Overall, in-store sales at its Eddie Bauer subsidiary decreased 8% for the year from last year, although the company's Newport News and Spiegel units pulled the group up to an overall sales gain of 5% for the year, from $2.9 billion to $3.1 billion. However, e-commerce sales soared in the five-week period ending Dec. 30, with web sales rising 94% over the year-ago period, in contrast to catalog sales which grew by 4% and retail store sales which declined 4% from the same period last year. Collectively, Eddie Bauer's sales across all channels declined 3% from the same five-week period a year ago. Spiegel did not report sales figures for its individual units. Significant web site improvements including a major re-design and the launch of eddiebauerkids.com and eddiebauerhome.com helped bolster web performance; while the company has cited "lackluster marketing programs" and an off-target apparel selection as reasons for Eddie Bauer's results overall.

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