July 15, 2009, 12:00 AM

At mid-year, web sales trump store sales at Macy’s

In June web sales at Macy`s grew 8.2% as comparable-store sales declined 8.9%. For the first six months of the year, web sales increased 13.6% as comp-store sales and total sales declined by 9% and 9.4%, respectively.

For the sixth month in a row, web sales outpaced store sales at Macy’s Inc.

In its June sales numbers, Macy’s, No. 23 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, reported a gain in web sales of 8.2% while comparable-store sales declined 8.9% and total sales decreased 8.9% to $2.04 billion from $2.24 billion in June 2008.

For the first six months of the year, e-commerce sales also easily outpaced comparable-store sales. From January through June, Macy’s, which doesn’t break out specific numbers for its e-commerce business, posted a gain in online sales of 13.6%. Comparable-store sales for the same period declined 9% and total sales decreased 9.4% to $8.99 billion from $9.92 billion in January through June of 2008.

While store sales languish, one retail analyst says Macy’s web sales are growing because the retailer is making an effort to build up a sales channel that its customers clearly prefer shopping. Over the past year Macy’s has increased the number of SKUs it carries online to more than 50,000. The retailer is also adding new departments such as its recently launched Eco Shop that features environmentally friendly home and beauty products.

“They have done a lot to improve the organization of categories, the facets they offer down the sides of the product pages and the way they present images and information,” says Nikki Baird, managing partner at research and advisory firm Retail Systems Research LLC. “They’re also offering better cross-channel capabilities with the in-store kiosks, and making improvements at the right time when more people are starting their trips online.”

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