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Cecile Corral

Off-prices, Costco Strong in January

NEW YORK - The off-pricers continued to rack up comp gains at a good pace last month, when both TJX Cos. and Ross Stores proved January's strongest performers.

     Costco led the 11-retailer pack tracked monthly by HTT. The club took home an 8% comp gain.
     But, TJX and Ross Stores were close behind. TJX reported an above-plan 7% gain and Ross was well ahead of expectations with a 5% comp increase.
     By division, TJX's comp results for the month, as relayed by svp of global communications Sherry Lang, included: a 7% gain for Marmaxx, which "significantly exceeded plans;" a 10% increase for Home Goods; and a 4% gain for the Winners and Home Sense Canadian divisions. "We are pleased to see the momentum come back into our Canada businesses," said Lang.
     Ross Stores' vice chairman and ceo, Michael Balmuth, said juniors, shoes and children's were the strongest merchandise categories during the month, while Florida and the Mid-Atlantic were the top performing regions.
     "We are extremely pleased with both our sales and earnings growth in 2011, especially considering that they were achieved on top of exceptional increases over the past three years," he continued.
     Target posted the fourth best comp increases in January - up 4.3% - as well as a strong 5.3% sales gain, which came in "near the high end of our expected low to mid single-digit range, reflecting strong performance in both discretionary and non-discretionary categories," said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and ceo. "Sales trends were healthy throughout the month and across the country."
     Home category comps increased in the low single digits, with the strongest performance reported in housewares and the softest results generated by domestics.
     Macy's 2.4% comp and its 2.0% sales increase made January the department store's "smallest volume month of the year," and the results were "weaker than anticipated," said Terry Lundgren, chairman, president and ceo.
     "Nonetheless, January was the 26th consecutive month of year over-year same-store sales growth for our company," he continued. "The fourth quarter was our strongest in many years, and demonstrated the continued progress in improving the fundamentals in our business at Macy's and Bloomingdale's."

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Same-store sales % change

WINNERS

Costco Wholesale Corp.

8.0%

TJX Companies

7.0%

Ross Stores

5.0%

Target Corp.

4.3%

Macy's Inc.

2.4%

Kohl's Corp.

0.6%

LOSERS

Stein Mart

(3.9)

The Bon-Ton Stores

(3.5)

Duckwall-ALCO

(1.1)

Fred's Inc.

(0.8)

     Online sales for macys.com and bloomingdales.com combined were up 38.7% in January, 40.0% in the fourth quarter and 39.6% for fiscal 2011. Ecommerce sales positively affected the company's same-store sales by 1.7 percentage points in the fourth quarter and 1.5 percentage points in fiscal 2011 as a whole. Online sales are included in the same-store sales calculation for Macy's.
     Kohl's modest 0.6% comp and a 2.4% sales increase in January were in line with expectations, according to chairman, president and ceo Kevin Mansell.
     Better news came from its online business, he continued, as Kohl's achieved its goal of $1 billion in e-commerce revenues in fiscal 2011.
     "The e-commerce business was a key contributor to our fiscal 2011 sales performance, and we plan to build on its momentum in 2012," Mansell added. "Additionally, strong expense management during the quarter contributed to better-than-expected profitability."
     Kohl's home category, along with men's, outperformed the company average for the month.
     The only retailer reporting fl at comps in January was Dillard's, where sales in shoes, home and furniture were significantly above trend during the month.
     The biggest comp losers in January were Stein-Mart and Bon-Ton, reporting comp decreases of 3.9% and 3.5%, respectively.
     Tony Buccina, vice chairman, president - merchandising, explained that Bon-Ton's sales were below expectations "due to the continuation of the milder weather in our markets, which had an adverse impact on sales of cold-weather merchandise and comprised the majority of our sales shortfall."
     Bon-Ton's best performing business was home, which included furniture, "due to the customers' favorable response to our semi-annual home sale."
     The regional department store's e-commerce sales "increased significantly over the prior year period," Buccina added.

JANUARY SALES FOR KEY RETAILERS

Five weeks ended January 28, 2012 (dollar amounts in millions) a

 

2012 SALES

2011 SALES

TOTAL
% CHG.

SAME-STORE
% CHG.

The Bon-Ton Stores Inc.

$174.4

$180.1

(3.2)

(3.5)

Costco Wholesale Corp. b

$7,000.0

$6,300.0

11.0

8.0

Dillard's Inc.

$363.5

$366.4

(1.0)

0.0

Duckwall-ALCO Stores Inc.

$28.7

$28.5

0.7

(1.1)

Fred's Inc.

$132.4

$129.1

3.0

(0.8)

Kohl's Corp.

$844.0

$825.0

2.4

0.6

Macy's Inc.

$1,336.0

$1,310.0

2.0

2.4

Ross Stores Inc.

$483.0

$441.0

10.0

5.0

Stein Mart Inc.

$60.1

$62.8

(4.3)

(3.9)

Target Corp.

$4,608.0

$4,383.0

5.1

4.3

The TJX Companies Inc.

$1,400.0

$1,300.0

5.0

7.0

52 WEEKS

 

2012 SALES

2011 SALES

TOTAL
% CHG.

SAME-STORE
% CHG.

The Bon-Ton Stores Inc.

$2,884.7

$2,980.5

-3.2

(2.8)

Costco Wholesale Corp. c, d

$40,180.0

$36,080.0

11.0

6.0

Dillard's Inc.

$6,199.0

$6,020.3

3.0

4.0

Duckwall-ALCO Stores Inc.

$482.8

$426.6

4.4

3.0

Fred's Inc.

$1,879.0

$1,842.0

2.0

0.5

Kohl's Corp.

$18,804.0

$18,391.0

2.2

0.5

Macy's Inc.

$26,404.0

$25,003.0

5.6

5.3

Ross Stores Inc.

$8,608.0

$7,866.0

9.0

5.0

Stein Mart Inc.

$1,160.4

$1,181.5

(1.8)

(1.1)

Target Corp.

$68,466.0

$65,786.0

4.1

3.0

The TJX Companies Inc.

$23,200.0

$21,900.0

6.0

4.0

a. Reporting periods vary among key retailers.
b. Costco's December comp results are for the U.S. division and do not include the positive impacts of inflation in gasoline prices or the negative impact from foreign currencies. Including those impacts, comps for the month were up 9.0% in the U.S. division, 6.0% in the international division, and 8.0% for the total company.
c. Because it is on a different fiscal calendar than the other key retailers on this list, Costco's year-to-date sales and comp results reflect the past 22-week period.
d. Costco's year-to-date comp results are for the U.S. division and do not include the positive impacts of inflation in gasoline prices or the negative impact from foreign currencies. Including those impacts, comps for the month were up 9.0% in the U.S. division, 9.0% in the international division, and 9.0% for the total company.

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