January 20, 2010, 12:00 AM

The web helped Williams-Sonoma celebrate the holidays with higher sales

Holiday direct marketing sales grew for Williams-Sonoma, and that boost in revenue should help Williams-Sonoma end Q4 with a 13.0% increase in e-commerce revenue, projects Internet Retailer. For the year, web sales will likely be down 9.5%.

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Holiday direct marketing sales grew nicely for Williams-Sonoma Inc., and that boost in revenue should help Williams-Sonoma end the fourth quarter with a 13.0% increase in e-commerce revenue, projects Internet Retailer.

Williams-Sonoma won’t release its year-end financial results until March, but the numbers contained in the multichannel retailer’s December sales report show sharply higher direct-to-consumer sales.

For the eight weeks ended Dec. 27, Williams-Sonoma, No. 24 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide (a PDF version of the company’s financial and operating profile can be ordered by clicking on its name), reported:

  • Direct sales rose 9.7% to $282 million from $257 million. With the web accounting for about 76% of Williams-Sonoma’s direct sales, Internet Retailer estimates that web sales over the holidays increased by almost 10% to about $214 million from $195 million in the prior year.
  • Total holiday sales increased 7.4% to $783.0 million from $729.0 million from the eight week period ended Dec. 28, 2008.
  • Comparable-store sales over the Christmas shopping season grew by 6.5% compared with a decline of 24.2% in the prior year.
“We are extremely pleased with our holiday performance,” says Williams-Sonoma CEO Howard Lester. “Revenues, selling margins and controllable expenses all exceeded the high end of our expectations and the actions we had taken to drive our business from both a competitive and financial perspective proved to be highly successful.”

Based on better holiday sales, Williams-Sonoma also is projecting higher revenue for the fourth quarter and the full year.

  • Direct sales in the final quarter will likely range from $390 million to $400 million. With the web accounting for more than three-fourths of all combined catalog and Internet sales, Internet Retailer estimates that e-commerce revenue will increase by 13% to $304 million from $269 million in the fourth quarter of 2008.
  • Total sales are forecast to range from $1.06 billion to $1.08 billion, an increase of up to 8% from revenue of $1.00 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008.
  • Comparable-store sales will increase 4% to 6% from a decline of 5.5% to 6.5% in the prior year.
  • For the full year, Internet Retailer estimates that e-commerce sales will decrease 9.5% to around $932.5 million from $1.03 billion in 2008.
  • Total sales for 2009 are expected to range from $3.07 billion to $3.09 billion, a decrease of about 8% to 8.6% from total revenue of $3.36 billion in 2008.
  • Direct sales for 2009 are expected to range from $1.21 billion to $1.22 billion, a decrease of about 12.2% to 12.9% from direct sales of $1.39 billion in 2008.
  • Williams-Sonoma expects comparable-store sales in 2009 to decline 1% compared with a decline in same-store sales of 17.2% in the prior year.

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