Fancy footwork in the shoe department

The footwear category is one fire judging from the recent performance of two leading retailers.

Brown Shoe Co., operator of 1,300 Famous Footwear and Naturalizer stores, said its same store sales for the quarter ended October 27 increased 6.8% and adjusted earnings increased 18.3% to $25.9 million or 51 cents a share.

Rival DSW, operator of 364 stores, said its same stores sales for the third quarter ended October 27 increased 6.1% and adjusted net income increased 17% to $46.6 million, or $1.02 per share,.

Brown Shoe president and CEO Diane Sullivan said the company had a solid back-to-school season and favorable business trends were evident throughout the quarter.

"We also saw improvement in sales for both our contemporary fashion and healthy living brand portfolios, as we continued to deliver trend-right products that are must-haves for consumers," Sullivan said.

Accordingly, the company, known for brands such as Naturalizer, Dr. Scholl’s, LifeStride, Sam Edelman, Franco Sarto, Via Spiga, Vera Wang, Vince, Avia and Ryka, raised it full year profit forecast and said it expects same store sales to grow by low single digits.

Brown Shoe’s performance followed an equally impressive showing by DSW where a string of same store sales increases was extended to 13 quarters.

"During the quarter, we opened a record 26 new stores," MacDonald said. "We also paid a special dividend of $2.00 per share to DSW shareholders this quarter, the second such dividend in the last 13 months. Finally, we continued to make strategic investments that will enable DSW to maintain its growth trajectory."

DSW said it expects to open 25 to 30 new stores next year.

Meanwhile, one of the most noteworthy developments in the footwear category involved Macy’s and its flagship Herald Square location in Manhattan. The company last week unveiled what it called the "world’s largest shoe floor," featuring more than 250,000 pairs of women’s shoes on the stores 63,000-sq.-ft. second level.