Tractor Supply plows ahead, comps advance

Sales at Tractor Supply’s 1,331 stores topped $1.5 billion during the first quarter but decelerating comp store growth and cool spring weather weighed on profit growth.

Sales at the nation’s largest rural lifestyle retailer increased 8.8% to $1.58 billion from $1.46 billion while same store sales advanced 1.9% on top of a prior year gain of 7.2%. Profits during the company’s second quarter ended June 28 increased 8% to $133.4 million, or 95 cents a share, compared to $123.6 million, or 87 cents a share.

The company said its same store sales growth was driven by consumable, usable and edible products (C.U.E.) and solid traffic counts. Offsetting those strengths was some deflation and weakness in the company’s safe category and weaker than expected sales of certain seasonal products primarily in the Northern regions. Sales trends accelerated during the quarter as weather became less of a factor and trends in the business were consistent with expectations.

"Sales in our everyday core C.U.E. offerings were strong throughout the second quarter. However, unseasonably cool weather in the early part of the quarter negatively impacted sales of spring seasonal merchandise,” said Greg Sandfort, president and CEO. “As the weather improved midway through the quarter, sales of spring seasonal products improved and have continued to meet our expectations in July.”

Although the comp increase was lighter than the prior year, it was the 25th consecutive quarter in which the company has posted an increase, no small accomplishment in the retail industry.

“We ended the quarter in great shape from an inventory position and a go-forward merchandise perspective, and feel good about our ability to continue driving sales and earnings growth in the back half of the year,” Sandfort said.

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