November 04, 2008

Nordstrom And Best Buy: Average Comp Store Sales Since 1992

Given that we'll hear about comp store sales on Thursday, it might be instructive to take a look back.

In this case, I averaged annual comp store sales for Nordstrom and Best Buy, from 1992 - 2008 (estimated). Two very different business models, averaged together, yield illustrative trends.

The chart doesn't do a good job of illustrating lousy business back in 1991 - 1992, as Best Buy comps were smokin' during those years.

I recall the sluggish sales that plagued business in 1997 - 1998, starting in the second half of 1997. I was at Eddie Bauer in 1998, my first year as a Circulation Director. I pulled a lot of money out of that circulation plan, week after week after week. That led to major circulation cuts in 1999.

It's easy to see the internet bubble of 1999 - 2000, and the struggles of 2001 - 2002 (our last recession).

The bubble of 2004 - 2006 becomes apparent in the chart. Starting in Q4-2007, business began to suffer, and we'll observe really bad October comps when announced on Thursday.

Since 1991, Best Buy averaged a 7.9% comp store sales increase. That's some major productivity, folks!

Since 1992, Nordstrom averaged a 1.9% comp store sales increase. That's a rate that is below inflation. Take out the bubble years of 2004 - 2006, and the average CAGR is 0.75%.

Ignore all that gloom and doom. This is where we innovate, where our hard work bears fruit in 2010 and 2011. There is absolutely nothing you're going to be able to do to crack open wallets enough to make a substantial difference during the remainder of 2008. Focus on innovation that drives business over the next few years.