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TJX: Home held its own in October

Framingham, MA — TJX's home concepts turned in strong performances during the month of October, according to the company.

Comps at the 109-unit HomeGoods chain climbed 12 percent, ahead of plan, vp of investor and public relations Sherry Lang said this morning in a recorded commentary about the results.

"While HomeGoods' sales were slower to pick up than our apparel-based concepts after the September attacks, they have achieved a good deal of momentum as seasonal shopping for the home goes into full swing," she said.

In Canada, sales at the fledging HomeSense chain — which opened its seventh unit last month — continue to outpace plan, Lang said. "We continue to be very optimistic about prospects for this new concept."

Within the MarMaxx Group — the umbrella for the 681-unit T.J. Maxx chain and the 573-unit Marshalls chain — home outperformed apparel on a comp basis, she said. Overall comps for the division were above plan with a 4 percent gain, with home comps up 6 percent and apparel up 3 percent.

Sales have been driven since September by taking "a very aggressive stance on pricing" and pursuing a rapid markdown strategy, a formula Lang acknowledged "came at some expense to our margins."

The strategy now is to sustain that momentum into the holiday season. "There are fabulous buys in the marketplace today and because we have been diligent in preserving our open-to-buy positions, we are able to take full advantage of them," a practice that Lang said should help offset some margin erosion.

Average per store inventories, including warehouses, were down 10 percent, she added. "Our inventories are in excellent shape with very liquid open to buy positions," Lang noted.

The company's overall consolidated sales for the month were $885 million, up 12 percent. The company will report its third quarter results Nov. 13.

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