After a sluggish first half of its last financial year, the low-priced American shoe retailer saw revenues accelerate in the second half. Sales for its fourth fiscal quarter, ended on Feb.1, increased by 2.2 percent from the year-ago quarter to $239.8 million. Comparable store sales jumped by 3.2 percent.

The company said that 2019 was a record year for Shoe Carnival, as it exceeded sales and profit expectations. It also delivered the eleventh consecutive year of comparable same-store sales growth, driven in large part by a strong performance of non-athletic footwear and accessories.

While there was a slow start in November, things picked up in December, with comparable sales up by mid-single digits, and they accelerated to high single-digits in January. There was higher traffic in stores and online in the holiday sales period, as shoppers responded to its seasonal advertising.

The gross margin advanced by 0.7 percentage points to 29.1 percent, while net income reached $3.5 million, up from $1.4 million for the same quarter a year ago.

The trend toward athleisure and away from performance styles continued. Athletic footwear sales were down slightly. There was a low-single-digit increase in women’s, but this was offset by a similar decline in men’s. Women’s non-athletic footwear grew by mid-single digits, driven by dress shoes. The company recorded lower boot sales due to a mild winter. The men’s non-athletic category was up by lo low single digits, with strength in casual and seasonal boots. Children’s non-athletic styles also performed well.

For the full year, sales inched up by 0.7 percent to a record level of $1,037 million, including comparable sales that grew by 1.9 percent, and e-commerce sales that gained around 16 percent to represent around 8 percent of total revenues. The gross margin was slightly up by 0.1 percentage points to 30.1 percent and net income rose by 12.5 percent to $42.9 million.

Shoe Carnival opened one store and closed six units during the year, ending with a total of 392 locations. It continued to focus on four key initiatives : the CRM program, the brand and customer experience, online sales, and store development. The company’s loyalty membership program, Shoe Perks, grew by double digits in 2019, resulting in sales growth of over $35 million versus the previous year. It now exceeds 23 million members.

Shoe Carnival closed all its stores until April 2 in response to the spread of Covid-19, but is continuing to fulfill e-commerce orders. The company is not providing any guidance for the full year due to the uncertainty caused by coronavirus.