March 6, 2009, 12:00 AM

Coldwater Creek web sales freeze up in 2008

For 2008, e-commerce sales for Coldwater Creek dropped by 21% while retail store and total sales declined by 3% and 11%, respectively. The web accounted for 21% of total sales.

Web sales for Coldwater Creek Inc. dropped in 2008 as the retailer continues to emphasize stores over its direct marketing channel.

2008 e-commerce sales for Coldwater Creek dropped by 21.1% to $210.7 million from $267.2 million in 2007. For the year, total sales for Coldwater Creek, No. 53 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, declined 11.3% to $1.02 billion from $1.15 billion in 2007. Retail store sales in 2008 declined 3.1% to $751.3 million from $775 million in 2007.

The web accounted for 21% of total sales vs. 23% in 2007. E-commerce also represented 77% of Coldwater Creek’s 2008 direct sales of $272.8 million, compared with 71 % of direct sales of $376.3 million in 2007. Catalog sales plummeted 44% to $61.5 million from $109.4 million.

Coldwater Creek’s net loss widened year over year to $25.9 million from $2.5 million.

Despite its roots as a cataloger, Coldwater Creek continues to emphasize stores over its direct channel. The women’s apparel retailer opened 46 standard stores and five outlet stores in 2008, bringing its total store count to 348 retail stores and 35 outlet stores. In contrast, catalog mailings decreased 33.1% to 85.9 million from 128.5 million in 2007.

In the fourth quarter, web sales for Coldwater Creek declined by 24.3% to $66.8 million from $88.3 million in Q4 2007. Total Q4 sales declined by 18% to $283.2 million from $345.5 million in Q4 2007, while retail store sales declined 11.8% year over year to $199.7 million from $226.3 million. The web accounted for 23.6% of 2008 Q4 sales versus 25.6% a year earlier.

In the fourth quarter the web accounted for 80% of direct sales vs. 74% in Q4 2007. Direct sales in the fourth quarter declined by 30% to $83.5 million from $119.3 million. Catalog sales in Q4 fell 46 % to $16.7 million from $31 million a year earlier.

The company reported a net loss of $18.6 million in the fourth quarter compared with a loss of $17 million in Q4 2007.

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