June 7, 2010, 9:03 AM

Out from the shadows

Mark Brohan

Research Director

Give Ann Taylor Stores Corp. a big thumbs up for finally breaking out e-commerce sales in their latest quarterly earnings release. They were nice numbers—in the first quarter ended May 1 total e-commerce sales were $42.3 million, a 52% increase from $27.8 million in the first quarter of 2009. Ann Taylor CEO Kay Krill says the company is now disclosing web sales as one way to make important internal operations more transparent to investors, customers and employees. Other chain retailers should be watching and listening. Even better I hope they follow Ann Taylor’s example and begin to break out their own e-commerce figures. Chain retailers are notorious for hiding their e-commerce numbers deep in press releases, public financial reports and earnings calls. And many chains still won’t report their e-commerce sales, even though for many it’s the only channel that’s growing. The shift by consumers from stores to online shopping is accelerating. It’s only a matter of time before investors demand that chain retailers produce more quarterly information on e-commerce. The metrics on clicks, conversions and online sales are just as important as the figures on comparable-stores sales, lease rates and sales per square foot. Ann Taylor saw this trend pretty clearly and took action. It’s about time other chains followed. Any takers?

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