Key retailers kick off Q2 with strong May, but Kohl's lags

Retail Editor 2, May 31, 2012

New York - Almost all of the key retailers tracked monthly by HTT enjoyed comp increases in May, getting the second quarter period off to a smart start.

Only Kohl's reported a comp decline - down 4.2% - which chairman, president and ceo Kevin Mansell described as "lower than our expectations" and the cause for the chain's softened guidance for Q2.

"We now expect second quarter comparable store sales to be modestly negative," he said. "We made some progress in building our inventory levels, but continue to expect lower units to hinder our sales until the back-to-school season."

Leading the pack as they have for the past several months were off-price rivals Ross Stores and TJX Companies, both posting 8.0% comp increases.

TJX boosted its earnings guidance for the second quarter, and ceo Carol Meyrowitz said customer traffic was up significantly at every division in the U.S. and Canada.

With a 4.4% comp increase, Target's May results came in at the high end of the company's expected range. However, home and hardlines comps decreased slightly.

Macy's comps rose 4.2% in May, with growth generated across geography and categories of business. Online sales for and combined were up 42.3%in May and 35.7% year-to-date.

May offered a fresh bouquet of comp increases for Bon-Ton and Stein Mart after several months of struggle for both chains.

Stein Mart posted a 3.1% comp increases after taking a 1.6% comp hit in April, thanks in part to continued strength in linens - among the strongest categories for the month.

New offerings and improved marketing were credited with Bon-Ton's 1.5% comp bump. The department store's ecommerce business again posted double-digit sales increases.

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