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Home A Mixed Bag For Retailers In February

Continuing on their winners' streak in February were the off-price retailers — Ross Stores and The TJX Companies — each of which rang in double-digit comparable store sales gains for the four-week period ending Feb. 27.

Close behind them were Costco up 9% and BJ's with a 7.5% gain, trailed by Kohl's and Macy's, both of which posted 3.7% comp increases.

The Johnson Redbook Same-Store Sales Index for the month was up 3.7% following a 3.0% gain in January and a 2.7% increase in December. Among the 31 retail companies tracked by the Index, 81% posted positive comps and 19% posted negative same-store sales. There were no double-digit decliners in the Index.

Ross led the pack among retailers tracked by HTT for the month, reporting an 11% comp increase. And of its businesses, home was among the leaders, also posting double-digit gains. “We are pleased to report February sales that were well above our expectations. Shoes and home were the top-performing merchandise categories in February, with same store sales gains of more than 20%,” said John Call, svp and cfo, Ross Stores.

One notch below Ross was multi-nameplate merchant TJX, posting 10% comp gains. TJX attributed its results — which were stronger than the retailer said it had originally anticipated — to the continued increase of customer traffic, among other positive trends.

By TJX division: Marmaxx posted a better-than-expected 11% comp increase; Home Goods came in higher with 14% comp gains, “continuing its robust trend,” noted Sherry Lang, svp, investor and public relations; and low-end format A.J. Wright rose by 9%.

“Clearly, we are very happy with our home inventories,” Lang declared.

Kohl's also singled out home as one of two categories — the other being accessories — that lead its business for February, when “all lines of business achieved positive comp sales increases,” the mid-price department store reported.

At multi-chain department store operator The Bon-Ton Stores, where comps increased 0.5% for the month, soft home specifically was among the top performing businesses, the company said.

While Target did enjoy a 2.4% comp increase, which was “modestly above expectations,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and ceo, this gain did not come from home, which posted low single-digit declines. Within home, decorative items were strongest and domestics were weakest.

Home and furniture were also “significantly below trend” in February at Dillard's, which reported essentially flat comps for the month.

And at JCPenney, home was alone as the single category that posted declines. “February results demonstrated continued positive response to the company's spring merchandise offerings. For the period, children's was the top performing merchandise division, while home experienced the weakest sales,” the company said.

WINNERS AND LOSERS
Same-store sales % change

WINNERS
Ross Stores 11.0%
TJX Cos. 10.0
Costco Wholesale Corp. 9.0
BJ's Wholesale Club 7.5
Kohl's Corp. 3.7
Macy's Inc. 3.7
Target Corp. 2.4
Fred's Inc. 2.0
JCPenney 1.2
Bon-Ton 0.5
LOSERS
Stein Mart (9.3%)
Duckwall-ALCO (2.9)


FEBRUARY SALES FOR KEY RETAILERS
Four weeks ended February 27a(dollar amounts in millions)

2010 SALES 2009 SALES TOTAL % CHG. SAME-STORE % CHG.
NA – Not available
a. Reporting periods vary from chain to chain. Wal-Mart no longer reports monthly sales.
b. BJ's total company comp club sales increased by 7.5% for the month of February 2010, including a contribution from sales of gasoline of 3.6%. Excluding gasoline sales, merchandise comparable club sales increased by 3.9%
c. Costco total company comparable club sales including gaoline were 9%, and were 5% for the U.S. and 26% for International. Excluding the positive impacts from gasoline inflation and strengthening of foreign currencies, comp club sales came in at 4% for the total company, 2% for the U.S. and 10% for International.
BJ's Wholesale Club b $755.2 $669.6 12.8 7.5
The Bon-Ton Stores $199.9 $200.2 (0.1) 0.5
Costco Wholesale Corp. c $5,610.0 $5,060.0 11.0 9.0
Dillard's Inc. $499.2 $497.7 0.0 0.0
Duckwall-ALCO $34.7 $35.5 (2.4) (2.9)
Fred's Inc. $150.7 $146.3 3.0 2.0
J.C. Penney $1,182.0 $1,165.0 1.5 1.2
Kohl's Corp. $1,084.0 $1,006.0 7.8 3.7
Macy's Inc. $1,641.0 $1,577.0 4.0 3.7
Ross Stores $554.0 $476.0 16.0 11.0
Stein Mart $74.5 $84.1 (11.4) (9.3)
Target Corp. $4,637.0 $4,373.0 6.0 2.4
TJX Cos. $1,400.0 $1,200.0 16.0 10.0


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