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Discounters show strength in February; Target sales up 7%

New York City -- In a month that was solid overall, the discount sector showed its muscle, turning in a strong February same-store sales performance nearly across the board.

After suggesting last week that sales had accelerated and returned to a pre-holiday pace, Target Corp. reported Thursday that same-store sales for the month rose 7%, beating Wall Street’s expected 5.2%. Total sales during the period rose 8% to $5.13 billion, boosted by strength in the food, healthcare and beauty categories. Accessories and apparel performed above average as well.

Meanwhile, The TJX Cos. saw same-store sales surge 9%, beating the 7% gain expected by Wall Street. Sales for the four-week period ended Feb. 25 were $1.6 billion, up 12% over last year’s $1.5 billion. “We believe that very favorable weather patterns during the month helped boost demand for spring apparel,” said Carol Meyrowitz, CEO.

Additionally, Costco Wholesale Corp. was another winner during the month, posting an 8% same-store sales rise, just edging the predicted 7.6% gain. Earlier, the membership club reported a quarterly profit rise of 13% to $394 million.

Other February same-store results among the discounter category included:

  • Ross Stores same-store sales rose 9%, beating Wall Street’s expected 4.6% rise;

  • SteinMart rose 0.7%, missing the predicted 1% gain;

  • Cato same-store sales dropped 5%;

  • Stage Stores rose 3.7%;

  • Fred’s dipped 0.7%, missing analysts’ expected 0.2% gain; and

  • Duckwall-Alco same-store sales rose 1.1%.