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Shift of Easter to March takes bite out of discounter’s sales in April

BY CSA STAFF

New York City Top discounters came in slightly below Wall Street expectations as a shift in the Easter holiday from April to March took an impact on sales.

The TJX Cos. said same-store sales rose 4% in April, not as high as the 4.4% increase analysts had expected.

The discounter said that although customer transactions increased, cool, wet weather, particularly in the New England region, held down spring apparel sales. It has started to see improvements as the weather has warmed up.

Carol Meyrowitz, president and CEO, The TJX Cos., stated: “Our 4% consolidated comparable-store sales increase in April was at the high end of our expectations. Looking at April and March combined, which neutralizes the impact of pre-Easter selling shifting into March this year from April last year, comparable-store sales increased by a very strong 9%.”

For the 13-week period ended May 1, sales increased 15% to $5.0 billion, with same-store sales up 9%. TJX now anticipates first-quarter net income at the high end of its previously announced forecast.

Costco Wholesale Club reported that for April, same-store sales rose 11%, as net sales rose 13% to $5.83. The same-store sales reflected increases of 6% in the United States and 29%. Its results narrowly missed Wall Street expectations.

The wholesale club operator said excluding inflation in gasoline prices and strengthening foreign currencies, same-store sales in April rose 4%.

At Target Corp., same-store sales fell an unexpectedly sharp 5.9% in April. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected a smaller 2.3% drop. Total sales fell nearly 4% to $4.29 billion.

“We believe a greater-than-expected portion of sales that otherwise would have occurred in April were pulled forward into March,” said CEO Gregg Steinhafel in a statement on Thursday.

The chain said in the combined March and April period same-store sales rose 3%, stronger than any monthly period since April 2008. Target says its total sales in April fell nearly 4% to $4.29 billion, from $4.45 billion last year.

But the discount retailer says higher-margin categories are performing well and expects first-quarter net income will at least meet analyst expectations.

In other April same-store sales results:

— BJ’s Wholesale Club’s sales jumped 4.6% in April, as customers filled their tanks at the retailer’s gas pumps. Analysts expected an increase of 6%.

The calendar shift that moved Easter back to March cut about 2.5% off comparable merchandise sales, the company said. Food sales rose by about 3%, while general merchandise sales slipped by roughly the same amount.

Total sales in April rose 9.5% to $787 million. Sales increased in the second and third week of the month, with the second week showing the highest gain, BJ’s said. The Easter shift was reflected in a drop in sales in the first week of the month.

For the quarter ended May 1, total revenue rose 13% to $2.55 billion. Wall Street was expecting $2.6 billion.

— Fred’s sales rose 0.6%, better than the loss analysts predicted. The chain’s total sales for the month grew 1% to $137.6 million.

For the full first quarter, Fred’s same-store sales were up 2.2% and total revenue climbed 3% to $471.7 million.

CEO Bruce Efird said higher consumer spending produced the April increase in Fred’s revenue at stores open at least a year. And he said the company is positioned well to meet the upper end of its first-quarter earnings forecast.

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CSA Editor’s Pick: Levi’s London flagship

BY Marianne Wilson

Levi’s has relaunched its London flagship on Regent Street after a massive facelift that has completely transformed the interior. The refurbished two-level, 8,500-sq.-ft. store aims to tell the story of the craft that goes into Levi’s denim making. The store combines authenticity, craftsmanship and storytelling to deliver a complete brand experience — one that engages customers even as it helps them with the jean-buying experience. All that aside, it’s a pretty cool store.

With a factory-inspired architectural design, the redone Levi’s takes customers on a journey through the brand’s evolution and the history of denim itself. All of the featured materials, which include exposed brick, raw steel, concrete, wood and glass, in some way connect with the essence of the workplace theme.

From the street, customers enter a transition space with reclaimed brick walls that is home to an ever-changing gallery that showcases everything from exclusive product collaborations to art exhibitions. The area works as a bridge between the youthful creativity and the contemporary scene and the artisan workplace.

Customers then move through two sets of huge factory doors to the main-level selling space, home to the latest collections. The space has a clean and industrial look and feel, with furniture and fixtures that are simple, but flexible enough to allow for an ever-changing environment.

A contemporary staircase leads down to the basement level. Backlit glass risers with Levi’s “XX” laser are cut into each tread. Alongside the stairwell is a gallery wall exhibit with a design inspired by glass-fronted storage cabinets. Among the items on display: an original 201 Jean from the 1920s (on loan from Levi’s archives) encased in glass and set against a backdrop of tailor’s patterns. The display speaks volumes about the brand’s longevity and also acts as a visual signpost for the adjacent Levi’s Vintage Clothing collection.

The basement is home to the 501 Jeans warehouse, separated from the rest of the store by floor to ceiling glaze and a mirrored back wall. Some 22 different washes are on display.

Close by is the “Inspection Room,” which is split into zones that allow customers to shop either by fit or finish. To ease the process, key fits and finishes are displayed on tailor’s forms and in illuminated inspection cabinets. A simple-to-follow number and letter navigation system takes customers to stock held in adjacent wall bays.

Among the store’s points of distinction are the fitting rooms, crafted with duck canvas that recalls the original canvas used by Levi Strauss in the 19th century. The doors are scaled versions of the heavyweight industrial doors found at the store entrance. An adjacent display of vintage weaver’s equipment pays homage to the brand’s craft and roots.

Levi’s was designed by Checkland Kindleysides, Cossington, Leicestershire (U.K).

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Costco COO to retire in June

BY CSA STAFF

ISSAQUAH, Wash. Costco Wholesale has announced the retirement of Dick DiCerchio as its senior EVP and COO, effective June 4.

Jim Sinegal, Costco’s CEO, stated: “Dick has made invaluable contributions to the growth of our company, having spent 27 years in all facets of our operations, culminating with his positions as senior EVP and a member of the board of directors. Under his leadership, the company has trained and developed a broad and deep team of executives across the globe. Jeff Brotman, I, our board of directors, and our employees are deeply grateful to Dick for all his contributions to our success and wish him a healthy and productive retirement.”

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