Nordstrom Earnings Call Insights: Rack Inventory and Traffic vs Ticket

Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Rack Inventory

Edward Yruma – KeyBanc Capital Markets: On the slides you had – I think it was the Rack inventory slide, maybe it was a full business slide. And you had something called pack away Rack inventory. Could you talk a little bit about that and whether that’s a new strategy or not?

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Michael G. Koppel – EVP and CFO: Sure Ed. This is Mike. The pack and hold is a strategy that we began last year and the idea there is to be more asserted in the market to get the best product we can as we transition out of this season. And with the continued growth in our Rack business, and the improvement in our partnership across all channels we’re just getting more scale and more leverage and we’re able to get better inventory and that increase in inventory represents that investment.

Edward Yruma – KeyBanc Capital Markets: One quick follow-up. Thank you for the table to help us with the quarterly trends due to calendar shift. But I was wondering if you could maybe give us a little bit more quantification in terms of the magnitude of difference between 2Q and 3Q based on the week shifting.

Michael G. Koppel – EVP and CFO: Ed, we’re not given specific direction by quarter. I think we did talk a little bit about that second quarter will be higher than average and the back half would be lower.

Traffic vs Ticket

Deborah Weinswig – Citi: Can you comment on the traffic versus ticket in the quarter and just how should we think about kind of things as they progress throughout the quarter?

Blake W. Nordstrom – President: Traffic versus ticket, that’s what’s the question?

Michael G. Koppel – EVP and CFO: Yes.

Deborah Weinswig – Citi: Yes.

Blake W. Nordstrom – President: Well, there was certainly a softness throughout the quarter. April was better, more return to normal. We had more softness in the first two months of the quarter regionally, and our Northeast capital (is at the) Mid-Atlantic and our Midwest regions. So there was definitely some softness there.

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Deborah Weinswig – Citi: And it does seem like the Nordstrom’s Rack definitely bucked that trend; can you comment on that business specifically?

Michael G. Koppel – EVP and CFO: Deborah, this is Mike, I just want to – just make one more comment on that. In terms of the average ticket in the first quarter, our regular price selling was as good as it’s ever been, and the average ticket was up. So we continue to see good progress there. And again, the second part was the Rack? Second question was the Rack?

Deborah Weinswig – Citi: Rack definitely seemed very strong in the quarter; I just wondered if you can comment on that business specifically.

Blake W. Nordstrom – President: Deborah, this is Blake. Our Rack business continues to perform well but it also mirrored to a degree the full-line stores from a comp store point of view. But we’re very pleased overall with it and its strategy and the new store growth is going on plan and in some cases exceeding our plan. So, we still feel good about that, but it was interesting that it’s had a healthy trend for some time and it came down a notch during the quarter but a similar trend or a reflection of the full-line stores.