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Soft home rebounding at BJ’s

Natick, Mass. – BJ’s Wholesale Club boasted that its fashion departments – including soft home – recently experienced a rebirth in comp sales – noting that last year’s economy was slowed by already high fuel costs and hurricanes.

“Based on the cycling of last year’s fuel spike in the third quarter, we predicted improving trends for this business, and that turned out to be the case,” said Michael Wedge, president and ceo, said during BJ’s third-quarter earnings conference call yesterday.

While comp sales for the fashion departments were -12% for the first two quarters, during the third quarter comp sales improved from a -15% in August to a -9% in September to a -2% in October -- a 13 percentage point trend change in a three-month period, Wedge said.

BJ’s fashion departments – which include soft home, apparel and jewelry – represent the 170-unit warehouse club chain’s “most discretionary” segment of business.

The company reported third-quarter net income of $18.3 million, down 34.2% from $27.8 million for the same period one year ago. Net sales were $1.98 billion, up 2.9% over revenues of $1.92 billion a year ago. Comp-store sales were virtually flat, up just 0.1%.

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