Shoe Carnival had its best fourth quarter ever, with revenues reaching $253.9 million in the three months ended Jan. 30, 2021, a 5.8 percent increase from the year-ago quarter. Comparable-store sales increased by 6.4 percent.

The American shoe retailer improved its gross margin by 1.7 percentage points to 30.8 percent. Net income soared from $3.5 million last year to $14.7 million. The company benefited from issuance of government stimulus toward the end of calendar year 2020.

Shoe Carnival attributed these results to operational initiatives and strategic investments in its CRM and e-commerce capabilities, driving increased sales and margins through segmented, personalized marketing. It had more than 26 million Shoe Perks loyalty members at the end of the quarter, 2 million more than last year. It aims to capture 5 million new members, online and in store, by 2023.

E-commerce grew by triple-digits and represented more than 19 percent of sales in the quarter, compared with 8 percent in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2019. The company expects digital sales to represent 20 percent of revenues in 2023.

During the period, Shoe Carnival opened one store, and one was closed, ending the period with 383 stores in 35 U.S. states and Puerto Rico.

By categories, adult athletics stood out, rising by mid-teens, driven by strong growth in both women’s and men’s product categories, which were both up by mid-teens for the quarter. Sales in women’s non-athletic categories were driven by comfort sport shoes, as customers continue to work and quarantine at home. Sales in men’s non-athletic categories were led by boots sales.

However, dress shoes were down by double digits, as many people continued to work from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Kids comparable store sales were up by mid-teens for the fourth quarter. Kids non-athletic grew by mid-teens and kids athletic was up by low teens.

For the full year, sales fell by 5.8 percent to $976.8 million, due to temporary store closures caused by the pandemic. E-commerce soared by 175 percent from fiscal 2019. Overall, comparable-store sales declined by 5.3 percent. The gross margin contracted by 1.4 percentage points to 28.7 percent. Net income was $16.0 million, compared with net income of $42.9 million last year.

As previously reported, Shoe Carnival’s board unanimously elected last week Mark Worden as the next CEO, effective Sept. 30, 2021. Worden is the chief customer officer of the American footwear retailer and will succeed Cliff Sifford, who will step down as CEO but will continue as vice chairman of the board.

The management said that results for the first quarter 2021 are on track to reach record sales and earnings.