That's where I find myself right now having listened, dumbfounded, to a call that was, with the exception of two weeks in April for one formerly red-hot division, Anthropologie, basically a barnburner.
That's right; if you believe management, up until one month ago this retailer, which had begun to pull away from all of its competitors, was just on fire. Then the roof caved in on Anthropologie, and you can see the results on your screen.
Urban has three divisions that matter: first, Free People; the teen apparel company that's fabulous and doing incredibly well is the smallest of the three. It had a 17% increase in comparable store sales. Downright incredible.
Then there's the flagship, Urban Outfitters, which had been doing terribly but has had a definitive turnaround, one that allowed it to continue to post excellent numbers, 5% comparable store sales this time around. Better than most.
And then there's pay dirt, the 199-store division that is Anthropologie, that curious admixture of everything from furniture to wedding gowns to accessories that I thought would be delivering mid-to-high single-digit gains because it had become the leader of the chain. The idol of most others in retail.
Yet, it only delivered 1% comp growth.
I could feel my blood boil when the company put out that anemic number. How could they not have flagged that shortfall earlier? Could it really be just the last two weeks of April? Isn't there something bigger involved? How could 14 days bring down what was otherwise looking to be a very good mid-single digit report from the division?