Hot Topic says holiday sales rise 4 percent

Hot Topic says holiday sales up 4 percent on gains at Torrid chain, more stores to open

Associated Press

CITY OF INDUSTRY, Calif. (AP) -- Hot Topic Inc. said Wednesday that sales during the holiday period rose 4 percent from a year ago, and it will open a number of new stores in 2013.

The company, which runs the Hot Topic and Torrid clothing chains, said total sales during November and December hit $177.3 million. Sales at Torrid stores increased 18.8 percent from a year ago to $36.2 million. Hot Topic sales increased 0.8 percent to $141.1 million.

Sales at stores open at least a year increased 2.2 percent for the two-month holiday period. These comparable-store sales are considered a key indicator of financial performance because they strip away the impact of recently opened and closed stores. They improved 1.6 percent at Hot Topic and 5.5 percent at Torrid.

The results include online sales.

Hot Topic CEO Lisa Harper said that new merchandising and sourcing strategies paid off at Torrid, which could be a growth vehicle for the company. And at its namesake brand, sales of clothing and t-shirts offset weaker sales of accessories.

The company it will go ahead with plans to open about 40 new Torrid stores, 15 new Hot Topic outlets and five to 10 Blackheart stores this year. Blackheart is the company's latest venture, a five-store chain where it sells what it calls "dark" and "edgy" lingerie, accessories and beauty products.

Hot Topic operates 619 teen clothing stores and 190 plus-size Torrid stores across North America.

Shares rose 9 cents to close at $9.72 amid a broad market rally.

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