Discounters post solid results for January; Macy’s misses estimates

New York City -- The nation’s discount chains reported solid results for January, with Target Corp., TJX Cos., and Costco Wholesale Corp. all reporting gains above expectations. Overall, discounters reported stronger results than department stores, which appeared to take a greater hit due to the unseasonably warm weather and heavy promotions.

As the first month of the year, January accounts for only 20% November-January sales, and 7% of annual sales, according to RetailMetrics.

Costco continued its winning ways as its same-store sales climbed 8% in January, helped by strong sales of food, small appliances and men’s apparel, along with higher gas prices. Results topped expectations for a 6.1%.

At Target, same-store sales increased 4.3% in January, better than the 2.1% increase rose analysts had predicted. The chain cited shoes, healthcare products and boys' and girls' clothing as among its strongest categories. Weaker categories included electronics and books.

Macy's had a 2.4% increase, which was below the 3.5% increase that analysts had expected. However, the chain raised its guidance for the fourth quarter — which did not include January — and for the full year.

For the four-weeks ended Jan. 29, Macy's said its total sales rose 2% to $1.34 billion, from $1.31 billion in the year-ago period. Online sales jumped 38.7% in January.

Total sales for the fiscal fourth quarter rose 5.5% to $8.72 billion. Fourth-quarter online sales jumped 40% and boosted the company's same-store revenue for the quarter by 1.7 percentage points, Macy's said.

"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," said Terry J. Lundgren, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Macy's.

In other discounter/department store same-store sales results for January:

  • Kohl's reported a 0.6% rise compared with the year-ago period, just above forecasts for 0.5%. Total sales advanced 2.4% to $844 million.
  • TJX Cos. said its sales rose 7%, easily ahead of forecasts for a 3.3% gain. The company raised its fourth-quarter guidance.
  • Saks’ sales rose a better-then-expected 10.5%, driven by sales of women's apparel, handbags and men's accessories.
  • Big Lots Inc. reported a 7.7% increase and raised its fourth-quarter earnings outlook above analysts' estimates.
  • Nordstrom’s sales rose 5% versus a year earlier. Total sales for the chain climbed 13.2% to $688 million.
  • Fred’s reported that its sales decreased 0.8%.
  • The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. reported a 3.5% decrease, and blamed the poor performance to a mild winter.
  • At Dillard's, sales were unchanged for January compared with a year ago.
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