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Mixed-bag for retailers in April; TJX, Gap and The Buckle shine

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — TJX Cos., Gap Inc., The Buckle and Zumiez all reported better-than-expected same-store sales for April, even as concerns about the job market bit into other retailers’ results.

Gap Inc. said its same-store sales in April rose a better-than-expected 7%, an 8% gain for Gap stores, a 1% rise for Banana Republic and a 9% increase for Old Navy. Net sales for the first quarter, which ended May 4, 2013, were $3.73 billion compared with $3.49 billion in the year ago period. Same-store sales were up 8% at Gap Global; 1% at Banana Republic Global; and 9% at Old Navy Global.

TJX Cos. said that same-store sales in April were up 8% on strong customer traffic, better than the 6.8% increase that analysts had expected. For the four weeks ended May 4, total revenue rose 9% to $2 billion.

“As we enter the second quarter, May is off to a strong start and our inventory levels are in an excellent position for us to buy into the enormous amount of quality opportunities we are seeing in the marketplace,” said TJX CEO Carol Meyrowitz.

The Buckle, Inc. reported a 6.2% increase in same-store sales for April, well ahead of the 1.5% same-store revenue growth anticipated by Wall Street analysts.

The teen apparel retailer also reported year-to-date same-store revenue growth of 1.2% and total sales of $269.7 million, a 2.3% increase.

Zumiez, also a teen fave, reported a 4.6% gain in same-store sales in April, ahead of predictions for a 3.3% increase. Total net sales for the four-week period ended May 4, 2013 increased 12.1% to $43.0 million.

At Costco Wholesale Corp, same-store sales in April rose 4%, just missing estimates, hurt by sharply lower fuel prices compared to last year. Net sales for the four weeks ending May 5 totaled $7.98 million, up 7% from $7.48 million during the same period a year earlier.

In addition, Costco reported $69 billion in net sales for the 35 weeks ending May 5, a 9% increase from $63.59 billion a year earlier. Total comparable store sales improved 6% in the same time period.

L Brands (parent of Victoria’s Secret) reported smaller-than-expected sales gains in April, with same-store rising 2%, missing analysts forecasts for a 4.6% increase.

In other April results:

  • At Ross Stores, same-store sales rose 7%. For the 13 weeks ended May 4, 2013, sales totaled $2.5 billion, a 6% increase over the year-ago period.
  • Hot Topic said its same-store sales declined 1.6%.
  • Alco Stores said its same-store sales fell 2.2%, hurt by continuing wintry weather in the Midwest.
  • Wet Seal’s same-store sales were down 2.9%. But its results exceeded expectations and the company raised its guidance.

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Meijer marks milestone, opens 200th store

BY CSA STAFF

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Meijer is marking a special milestone Thursday, May 16, when it opens its 200th store in Swartz Creek, Mich. The store opening will create more than 200 jobs for the community.

To celebrate the event, the family-owned retailer will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. at the store, located at 4141 Morrish Rd. Meijer officials will be on hand, and the retailer will make presentations to the Swartz Creek Food Bank and the Swartz Creek Civic Center enhancement project.

"We’re excited to continue to see our company grow in Michigan," said co-chairman Hank Meijer. "We started local, and we feel it’s important to continue to focus on the communities where we’re located. Whether it’s through donations to local food banks like the Swartz Creek Food Bank, or in supporting farmers across the Midwest, we’re focused on growing together with our customers and our surrounding communities."

The Swartz Creek store is the first of six new stores the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer will open this year in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. It also represents a portion of the more than $160 million planned investment in new and remodeled stores Meijer is making this year throughout the Midwest.

"I am very happy that we now have a Meijer store in Swartz Creek for my own use, and for our citizens to use," Swartz Creek Mayor David Krueger said. "I’m sure that our citizens are going to love the convenience of having the store here, and the many job opportunities that Meijer brings."

At approximately 190,000 sq. ft., the Swartz Creek Meijer was built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards. It will offer competitive prices and includes a drive-thru, full-service pharmacy offering the retailer’s free prescription program for oral generic antibiotics, prenatal vitamins and medications for those with diabetes and high cholesterol. The store will also feature a gas station; a wide selection of general merchandise, including apparel, electronics and pet items and a robust grocery department with national and Meijer brand items.

Meijer is also one of the largest purchasers of fruits and vegetables in the Midwest with an economic benefit of more than $80 million annually. The retailer published an infographic showcasing its commitment to locally grown and the relationships it has with more than 100 growers in the Midwest, providing customers with fresh produce year-round.

"Meijer has a longstanding commitment to buying locally grown produce when available as long as the quality meets our high standards," said Jerry Suter, VP of fresh for Meijer. "It’s just one way Meijer supports the communities it serves, and it’s an initiative that has expanded during the past five years as the focus on local became more important to our customers."

Michael VanOoteghem, of VanOoteghem Farms, said buying local really resonates with customers.

"We’re not a very big farm, but we do a lot of business with Meijer," said VanOoteghem, VP of the Essexville, Mich.-based farm that’s provided the retailer with potatoes and cabbage for a decade. "We run into customers and they put a name with a face, and that face also means quality. If they can see that Meijer provides a great quality product, and that it’s from a local grower, it gives a boost to the entire community."

Earlier this year, Meijer expanded its program that supports Michigan small businesses to feature 55 new Michigan-made grocery items in all its stores statewide. The goal of the Made in Michigan initiative, launched in partnership with the Michigan State University Product Center, is to help strengthen the state’s economy by supporting small businesses.

Meijer opened its first store in 1934. It is a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer that operates 200 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.

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Target sets bull’s-eye on fall with new collection

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS — Summer’s not yet here, but Target has its bull’s-eye set on fall. The discount retailer is teaming up with designer Phillip Lim on an exclusive collection for women and men.

Called 3.1 Phillip Lim for Target, the collection will be available Sept. 15 at most Target stores and online.

“Since an early age, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of design evolution,” said Phillip Lim. “One of the reasons I wanted to collaborate with Target is because I felt that together we could create a collection that would inspire — one that is cool and chic, but still very accessible.”

The collection, according to Lim, embodies his philosophy that clothing is meant to refine, not define. The collection features more than 100 items, including apparel and accessories such as shoes, bags and travel pieces in neutral tones and prints. It ranges in price from $19.99 to $299.99 for apparel and from $19.99 to $59.99 for accessories. Standout pieces include bags, dresses and a trench coat for women, and shoes and a leather moto jacket for men. Travel accessories, such as a duffle and multipurpose pouches for women and men, round out the collection.

“Phillip is a designer we’ve had our eye on for years. His aesthetic is modern and sophisticated, and he shares Target’s vision of democratizing design,” said Trish Adams, SVP of apparel and accessories, Target. “This fall, 3.1 Phillip Lim for Target will offer our guests a compelling reason to update their wardrobes, with an assortment of versatile, beautifully tailored must-haves for both women and men.”

Phillip Lim is a New York-based designer. He debuted the 3.1 Phillip Lim label, which he co-founded with friend and fabric supplier Wen Zhou in 2005 at New York Fashion Week. Throughout the years, Lim has developed a following of celebrity supporters including Kate Hudson, Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley.

Target, which just made waves in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal with a popup dollhouse promoting its new Threshold brand of home décor and housewares, operates 1,784 in the United States and 46 in Canada as well as its online e-commerce site.

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