FINANCE

Costco, BJ’s and Target beat estimates in July

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — Warehouse club operators Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club continue to benefit from high fuel prices and bargain-seeking consumers, with both chain reporting solid results.

Costco reported a 10% rise in same-store sales In July, beating Wall Street’s expectations for an 8.6% increase.

The company’s strongest performance was overseas, with international same-stores sales jumping 22%. Its U.S. sales increased 6%. Removing gas price inflation and stronger foreign currencies, same-store sales gained 5% for the month.

Costco said that total revenue for the four weeks ended July 31 rose 15% to $6.74 billion. The warehouse club operator said that there was one less shopping day in the United States during the current period, which hurt its same-store sales and its total revenue by about 3%, or about 3.5% in the United States.

BJ’s Wholesale Club, which is in the midst of being acquired by private equity firms Leonard Green & Partners and CVC Capital Partners in a $2.8 billion deal, said that its July same-store sales rose 9.2%, topping Wall Street’s average prediction of a 6.6% increase. Excluding gas sales, BJ’s same-store sales gained 5.4%.

The wholesale club operator said second-quarter same-store sales rose 7.8% (and 3.8% when excluding gas sales). Total revenue increased 11% to $2.98 billion.

Target reported a 4.1% rise in same-store sales in July. Analysts had forecast a smaller 3.7% increase. The discounter said total revenue for the four weeks ended July 30 rose 6% to $4.84 billion.

“Back-to-school sales are off to a solid start, contributing to our confidence in the strategies we have in place and our ability to execute them, especially as we head into the 2011 holiday season." and CEO Gregg Steinhafel in a statement.

Commodity categories had the strongest growth, with grocery category same-store sales in the mid to upper teens, while health care, beauty and household essentials increased in the mid-to-upper single-digit range.

Strength in apparel continued in July. Within apparel, the company said sales were strongest in intimate, hosiery and performance categories along with women’s and men’s apparel. The softest results were seen in jewelry and accessories.

TJX Cos. said its same-stores sales in July rose 4%. Sales for the four-week period ended July 30, 2011 were $1.6 billion, up 8% from $1.5 billion in the prior-year period. The company raised its outlook for the second quarter

In a statement, CEO Carol Meyrowitz called out the 5% same-store sales gain in the company’s Marmaxx Group, its largest division, which includes the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls retail chains.

In other discount same-store sales results:

  • At Fred’s, same-store sales dipped 0.5%, falling short of expectations. The company also lowered its second-quarter earnings outlook again.
  • Duckwall-Alco Stores said its sales increased 7.6%, excluding fuel. The retailer said sales growth was balanced across many categories.
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Sam’s Club to offer free vision screenings

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Sam’s Club is encouraging customers to protect their eyes by offering free vision screenings at its stores nationwide on Aug. 13.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., both adults and children can receive a vision acuity screening, as well as a quick take-home test called an Amsler Grid, which tests for blurred or missing areas of vision.

The screenings will be offered in Sam’s Club locations that have a pharmacy and/or optical centers. What’s more, the optical department is offering savings on eye health brands through Aug. 28. Additionally, members and guests can receive free samples of Zeiss lens wipes and Zeiss liquid eyeglass cleaner.

"Vision screenings are important preventative health measures for all ages to maintain eye health and preserve sight for years to come," Sam’s Club health-and-wellness SVP Jill Turner-Mitchael said. "Vision problems can start at any age and early detection is the key to good vision. With many adults and children preparing to focus on chalkboards and computer screens this fall, Sam’s Club is proud to offer free eye health screenings to benefit the communities we serve."

In addition to the vision screenings, the company also will offer free glucose tests. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes can cause blindness and more new cases of blindness are diagnosed among diabetes patients ages 20 to 74 years. The tests will not be offered in stores located in Hawaii, Maryland and Tennessee.

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FINANCE

Macy’s, Saks and J.C. Penney beat Street in July, Kohl’s disappoints as sales fall

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — Department store retailers registered solid gains in July, with Macy’s, Saks and J.C. Penney all beating analysts’ estimates. Kohl’s, however, fell short of estimates as its sales fell.

At Macy’s, same-store sales rose 5% in July, beating analysts’ estimates of 4.1%. The company’s online sales (macys.com and bloomingdales.com combined) surged 36.7% in July, 40.2% in the second quarter and 39.2% in the first half of 2011.

Macy’s reported total sales of $1.6 billion for the four weeks ended July 30, 2011, an increase of 5.7% compared with the year-ago period.

“Store and online sales throughout the second quarter continued to be strong at both Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s,” said Terry J. Lundgren, chairman, president and CEO, Macy’s. “In particular, sales have been driven by fresh, interesting and distinctive merchandise assortments that deliver value to our customer. The company’s performance is clearly benefitting from a re-energized, customer-focused growth culture that has embraced our strategies for localization, omnichannel integration and enhanced selling skills among our associates.”

Saks said its same-store sales jumped 15.6% far ahead of the 8.5% average forecast from Wall Street analysts, as sales of designer clothing and shoes rose.

Saks’ total revenue in July rose 13.8% to $191 million from $167.9 million ion a year earlier. For the second quarter, same-store sales rose 15.5%. Total revenue rose 12.8% to $583.3 million.

J.C. Penney reported a rise of 3.3% in its July same-store revenue on strong sales of women’s clothing and accessories and fine jewelry. Its results were better than analysts expected.

The chain said its Liz Claiborne, Modern Bride and Sephora sections boosted its monthly results.

At Kohl’s, same-store sales in July fell 4.6%, and total sales dropped 2.9% to $1.12 billion. Wall Street analysts had expected July same-store sales to rise 3.4%.

Kohl’s CEO Kevin Mansell called the July comp sales results “disappointing.”

“I am, however, especially pleased with our ability to manage our inventory and expenses resulting in better than planned gross margins as well as better than planned leverage on our expenses,” he said.

In other department store retailers’ July same-store sales results:

  • Nordstrom reported a 6.6% gain in sales.
  • The Bon-Ton Stores’ sales dipped 1.6%, as July sales of juniors, children’s, shoes and furniture disappointed.
  • Stage Stores’ sales inched up 0.8%, worse than the 2% predicted.
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