David Jones still remains optimistic despite reporting a 4.3 per cent fall in total sales on a like-for-like basis for the financial year of 2012.

The department store giant reported total sales were $1.8 billion compared to $1.9 billion from the prior year.

But they’re certainly not ending the year well either with total sales for the fourth quarter being $455.8 million, representing a 1.3 per cent decline from $462.1 million.

David Jones CEO Paul Zahra said while the numbers are looking like, it’s all part of the plan.

“In the quarter we decreased the duration of our Winter Clearance by two weeks. This is consistent with our strategy to reduce the length of our discount events and to focus on new inventory,” he said.

As a result, the company reaffirmed its guidance for the 2012 financial year of a 35 per cent to 40 per cent decline in PAT.

“Whilst trading conditions continued to be challenging throughout the quarter we did see a continued improvement in our sales tracking, with sales in 4Q12 down 1.3 per cent,” he said.

 “We are making good progress in implementing our Future Strategic Direction
Plan and look forward to updating the market on our progress at the time of our full year results in September.

“Whilst the trading environment remains challenging we have a strong business model, a clear business strategy, a strong balance sheet, good cashflows, ownership of our flagship Sydney and Melbourne CBD stores and the best national and international brand portfolio in Australia.”

The best performing categories in the fourth quarter of 2012 were Womenswear, Beauty, Menswear, Shoes and Accessories. The Home and Electrical categories continued to be challenging.

On a state-by-state basis the best performing states in the quarter were Victoria, the ACT and Western Australia, all of which delivered positive growth. The company’s performance in Queensland was adversely impacted in the quarter by the Toowong Village store refurbishment.