FINANCE

Tractor Supply Q2 sales miss forecast

BY Dan Berthiaume

Brentwood, Tenn. – Tractor Supply Co. reported sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2014 increased 8.8% to $1.58 billion, from $1.46 billion in second quarter 2013. This figure was slightly below consensus analyst estimates of $1.6 billion.

In an earnings update, Tractor Supply also reported that same-store sales increased a lower-than-anticipated 1.9%, driven by continued strength of consumable, usable and edible products (C.U.E.) and solid traffic counts. This was partially offset by weaker than expected sales of certain seasonal products primarily in the Northern regions, continued softness in the safe category and deflation. As the quarter progressed, sales trends improved and weather became less of a factor. The softness in sales was principally in the first half of the quarter with the second half being consistent with Tractor Supply’s expectations.

Tractor Supply expects second quarter net income to be below previous market estimates and also anticipates its fiscal year 2014 results will be at the low end of the previously provided guidance.

"We remain pleased with many areas of the business, including our core C.U.E. offerings and several seasonal categories; however, we were not satisfied with the overall sales of spring seasonal merchandise in the second quarter,” said Greg Sandfort, president and CEO. “The challenging spring weather conditions we experienced in the first quarter persisted even later into the second quarter than the prior year. The team responded by effectively managing inventory and increasing marketing initiatives to drive sales; and sales improved as the quarter progressed into June. Despite a solid sales trend in July to date, we cannot be assured at this point that spring seasonal sales will be fully realized. By effectively managing inventory levels and working with our vendors to develop additional sales driving initiatives, we believe we are positioned to drive sales and provide great values to our customers in the back half of the year."

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OPERATIONS

Barnes & Noble agrees to reinforce breast-feeding policies

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – In a settlement with the state of New York over a complaint by a New Jersey resident who was asked to cover her breast while nursing in a Nanuet, New York, store, Barnes & Noble has agreed to educate employees about its policies regarding public breast-feeding. As part of the agreement, Barnes & Noble also agreed to strengthen procedures for resolving customer complaints and to make a $10,000 donation to the Rockland County Breastfeeding Promotion and Support Program.

Barnes & Noble has always had policies in place allowing breast-feeding in its stores. The customer who was asked to cover her breast also received a $50 gift card.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

World Cup boosts soccer-related U.S. e-commerce

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Jose, Calif. – For the month of June, soccer-related searches across the U.S. sites of eight international sporting goods and apparel retailers increased by 280%, compared to May. According to analysis from SLI Systems, there were more than 2.2 million U.S. soccer-related product searches from these eight e-commerce sites alone, with a corresponding boost in online shopping behavior during June for products including soccer cleats, balls, shin guards, gloves and other equipment.

June 16 was the peak day for soccer-related shopping in the U.S., the day U.S. played Ghana. In the U.S., the international teams with most consumer interest are Brazil, followed by Germany, Argentina, and the Netherlands.

The most popular search terms, in order, for the U.S., were:

• Soccer
• USA soccer
• FIFA
• Nike soccer

“Soccer is played year-round in the U.S., but recreational soccer gear tends to be purchased before fall and spring seasons,” said Tim Callan, CMO, SLI Systems. “We found (data) demonstrating the country’s increased interest in actually playing the sport. It is clear that The World Cup U.S. fanfare will continue long after Sunday’s final game.”

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