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Goodbye to All That

Jennifer Marks Editor-In-ChiefJennifer Marks Editor-In-Chief
Last week, Ross stores and TJX Companies released their final monthly sales reports - following a steady procession of other retailers that over the past several months have also concluded that there's no upside in sharing final results between quarters.
     Last fall, Macy's, Kohl's and Target announced they would stop issuing monthly reports in 2013. JC Penney ceased monthly reports in spring 2012 as it began its strategic overhaul. Alco called it quits after its March numbers came out. Walmart ditched the practice in 2009. Kmart and Sears dropped out after they were merged into Sears Holdings. And many other retailers that once provided monthly numbers have gone out of business.
     Of course, as retail junkies we love seeing those monthly numbers. We pan for the few nuggets of information that accompany them. Was there any mention of home? Any reference to soft home in particular? Was the category a performer or a drag on the period's comps?
     But one can understand a company's concern that one slack month may not be representative of the trend line for a full quarter - and its wariness of how Wall Street might react to seeing numbers based on a few off weeks.
     Among the companies tracked by HTT that report monthly sales figures, there are now just three: Costco, Fred's and Stein Mart. It would come as no surprise if any or all of them decided there was no point to carrying on with it.
     The retail landscape is ever-changing. Before the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was passed in 2002, many publicly traded retailers shared their reflections on quarterly results only in closed calls with professional analysts - which left individual investors at a disadvantage.
     Now, public companies can throw as much light as they like - or as little - on their quarterly results. Walmart and Bed Bath & Beyond read out statements while other retailers engage in live and sometimes lengthy Q&A sessions with analysts. But however much information they chose to impart, they have to air it publicly. That's a good thing in my book.
     But the latest decisions by TJX, Ross and the others signals the end of an era. And so it goes.

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