February 13, 2009, 12:00 AM

After years of big gains, 2008 web sales rise modestly at Abercrombie

In 2008, web sales for Abercrombie grew by just 4.2% to $271 million. In the fourth quarter, web sales for Abercrombie declined by 12.4%.

After years of stellar gains, e-commerce revenue for Abercrombie & Fitch Co. increased only slightly in 2008 and declined in the fourth quarter.

In 2008, web sales for Abercrombie, No. 54 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, grew by just 4.2% to $271 million from $260 million 2007. In comparison, comparable store sales declined by 13% while total revenue dropped 5.6% to $3.54 billion in 2008 from $3.74 billion in the prior year. Net income dropped year over year to $272.2 million from $475.7 million in 2007. In 2008, the web accounted for 8% of total sales.

In recent years, web sales for Abercrombie had been growing by about 50% annually. But the specialty apparel retailer says the current recession is hurting sales across all channels, including e-commerce.

In the fourth quarter, web sales for Abercrombie declined by 12.4% to $95.1 million from $108.6 million in Q4 of 2007. Overall Abercrombie in the fourth quarter of 2008 recorded net income of $68.4 million on sales of $998 million vs. net income of $216.8 million on revenue of $1.22 billion in the prior year. The web accounted for 10% of all sales in the fourth quarter; comparable store sales decreased by 25% in Q4.

"The fourth quarter proved to be a catastrophe for the retail industry; a nightmare that included unprecedented promotional activity by other retailers in the malls and consumers who continued to show reluctance to spend, especially for premium brands,” says CEO Mike Jeffries. “However, despite the unprecedented volatility, we are satisfied with our results for the quarter.”

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