I would now like to turn the call over the call over to Mr. Brendan Hoffman.
Brendan L. Hoffman
Good morning and thank you for joining us. I will begin with some highlights from the second quarter, followed by an overview of our four focus areas and opportunities. Overall, in the second quarter we achieved our first positive comps since the fourth quarter of 2010, and instituted several changes to our business that we believe position us well for improved performance in the second half. We evaluated and made adjustments to our merchandise assortment and marketing programs to drive store productivity. In addition, we made enhancements to e-commerce and took steps to create a store environment that emphasizes a customer first experience.
We successfully completed the exchange of our senior notes in July and seamlessly transitioned to our new partner Alliance Data for our private label credit card business.
We are also on track to achieve the $40 million annualized expense reductions, with an estimated benefit of $30 million to fiscal 2012. Keith will get into more details in his remarks.
Moving on to the merchandise and marketing discussion. All the work we did during the season to adjust the mix of the traditional and updated assortments is beginning to pay dividends. In July, we saw a significant improvement in our Ladies Ready-to-Wear businesses, particularly Moderate Sportswear and Special sizes.
Our best performing businesses for the quarter were Hard and Soft Home, Shoes and Cosmetics, while our toughest businesses were Juniors and Dresses. We are working to identify opportunities to turn these categories around. E-commerce business continues to trend at double-digit sales increases. Our Private brand penetration was 20.3% compared with 21.2% in the second quarter of 2011.
We tested some new marketing events, which really communicated the value we offer through a more consistent and simplified messaging. We were very pleased with the customer’s favorable response and will expand on these in the fall.