Blue Apron announces layoffs amid 29% revenue decline and J.C. Penney's new CEO chases digital shoppers.

Nordstrom Inc. reported a 16.5% increase in digital sales, generating $948.5 million for the third quarter ending Nov. 3, up from $814.4 million during the same period last year. Digital sales made up 26% of total sales, up from 23% last year. For the year so far, online sales made up 30% of revenue or $3.33 billion, 21.5% growth from $2.74 billion during the first three quarters last year. Nordstrom is No. 16 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 1000.

Sales of discounted goods through online channels was particularly strong, according to co-president Blake Nordstrom on an earnings call transcribed by Seeking Alpha.

“NordstromRack.com and HauteLook are on track to exceed $1 billion in sales this year,” he said. Other online properties have also performed well this year, according to Nordstrom, with Trunk Club revenue growing 50% for the year so far.

Total revenue at Nordstrom was up 3.3% to $3.75 billion from $3.63 billion the year before. Minus online sales, total revenue declined just under 1% year over year to $2.80 billion from $2.82 billion.

A reason for the increased overall revenue is the growing loyalty programs operated by the department store, Nordstrom said. Nordy Club, launched last month, is the retailer’s new, free loyalty option. Nordstrom points to its launch as a reason for an uptick in app downloads, where loyalty members can redeem points. The 11 million loyalty customers across all tiers, up from 10 million in August, generated 56% of total sales at Nordstrom during the third quarter, a 15% gain from the same period last year, Nordstrom said on the call.

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In other earnings news:

  • The new CEO at J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (No. 31), Jill Soltau, is keenly aware of the apparel retailer’s need to improve its digital outlook, but didn’t share any concrete plans. “I would say I am still very much assessing the organization’s capabilities around all things digital,” Soltau said in an earnings call transcribed by Seeking Alpha. “What I do know is that that is where the customer is today. And that’s where we need be or get to as quickly as we can. So, I can’t give you any detail on that. Just know that I have a huge sense of urgency around that.” J.C. Penney didn’t break out e-commerce sales, but total sales were down 5.3% to $2.733 billion for the third quarter ending Nov. 3, from $2.886 billion the year before.
  • Meal-kit seller Blue Apron Inc. (No. 67) announced plans to cut 4% of its workforce as it homes in on customer segments with the highest retention rate. The top-spending 30% of its customers accounted for 80% of its revenue during the year after signing up. Blue Apron said it wants to serve those customers better with options like on-demand delivery, which it has been testing in New York as a partnership with Walmart Inc.’s (No. 3) Jet.com. Overall revenue declined 28.5% to $150.6 million from $210.6 million.
  • Walmart continued its e-commerce growth in the third quarter ending Oct. 31, posting a 43% year-over-year increase. Online sales growth contributed more to growth than ever before for the mass merchant.
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