March 26, 2014, 12:33 PM

Vera Bradley’s e-commerce arm underperforms vs. stores in Q4 and 2013

The handbag maker and online retailer says site traffic and average order value declined.

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Earnings reports from many multichannel retailers in recent months revealed large declines in store sales against increases in web sales during the recent fourth quarter and full-year fiscal periods. In a departure from those reports patterned handbag manufacturer Vera Bradley Inc. reported a decrease in online sales during the fourth quarter and full year, while store sales were up.

Much of the increase in store sales came from 19 full-priced and four outlet stores Vera Bradley opened in 2013, the retailer says.

For the fiscal year 2014 ended Feb. 1, Vera Bradley, No. 172 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, disclosed:

  • E-commerce revenue dropped 0.3% compared with fiscal 2013. The retailer does not disclose its online sales figures, but Internet Retailer estimates it brought in $127.4 million in online sales in 2013. A 0.3% drop from that figure would indicate fiscal 2014 web sales were approximately $127.0 million.
  • Total sales were $536.02 million, a 0.9% drop from $541.15 million.
  • Direct revenue, which includes e-commerce and sales from Vera Bradley stores, was $326.2 million in 2013, up 11.5% from $292.6 million.
  • Indirect revenue decreased 15.6% to $209.8 million from $248.6 million because of lower orders from the specialty retail accounts, combined with the closing of 400 wholesale accounts during the year.
  • Comparable-store sales declined 5.7%.
  • Net income was $58.8 million, a 14.7% drop from $68.9 million.

Declines in web and store traffic, combined with lower average order values and an “underperformance of the product offering” drove the decreases in comparable-store sales and e-commerce sales for the year, Vera Bradley says.

“We continue to face external headwinds and certain challenges within the business, and fiscal 2015 will be a year of transition for Vera Bradley,” says CEO Robert Wallstrom. “We will modernize and elevate our product, evolve into a true multichannel business as we grow our full-line store base, expand our factory outlet channel, further develop e-commerce, expand our department store presence, and stabilize our specialty/gift channel, and generate excitement for the aspirational Vera Bradley brand through our marketing efforts.”

For the fourth quarter, the retailer reported:

  • E-commerce sales dropped 7.2% compared to the fourth quarter of the prior year. The retailer did not disclose dollar amounts.
  • Total sales were $157.5 million, a 3.1% decline from $162.6 million.
  • Direct segment revenue increased 5.2% to $108.7 million from $103.3 million, which was mostly driven by sales from new stores opened in the last year.
  • Comparable-store sales declined 10.2%.

Severe winter weather cut down store traffic during the fourth quarter, Vera Bradley says.

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