FINANCE

Retail sales post second straight monthly gain

BY Marianne Wilson

Consumers increased their spending in April, helping retail sales to blossom after a sluggish winter performance.

Retail sales in April increased 0.4% seasonally adjusted over March and 2.8% year-over-year as consumers continued to spend, according to the National Retail Federation said today. (The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.) The April results build on improvement seen in March, which was up 0.3% monthly and 5.2% year over year.

NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said overall April sales – including automobiles, gasoline and restaurants – were up 0.3% seasonally adjusted from March and up 4.7% year-over-year.

“Retail sales growth remains solid and on track as households benefit from tax cuts even though they have faced unseasonable weather and bumpy financial markets,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “The tax cuts and higher savings levels should help consumers afford the recent surge in gasoline prices. And a solid job market, recent wage gains and elevated confidence translate into ongoing spending support.”

Specifics from key retail sectors during April include:’

• Online and other non-store sales were up 12.2% year-over-year and up 0.6% over March seasonally adjusted.

• Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 5.8% year-over-year and up 0.8% from March seasonally adjusted.

• Building materials and garden supply stores were up 5.6% year-over-year and up 0.4% from March seasonally adjusted.

• Electronics and appliance stores were up 2.2% year-over-year but down 0.1% from March seasonally adjusted.

• Health and personal care stores were up 0.2% year-over-year but down 0.4% from March seasonally adjusted.

• Grocery and beverage stores were down 0.1% year-over-year but up 0.4% from March.

• Clothing and clothing accessory stores were down 0.4% year-over-year but up 1.4% from March seasonally adjusted.

• General merchandise stores were down 0.8% year-over-year but up 0.3% from March seasonally adjusted.

• Sporting goods stores were down 3.8% year-over-year and down 0.1% from March seasonally adjusted.

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Late spring puts damper on Home Depot’s Q1 sales

BY Marianne Wilson

A late start to the spring selling season took a toll on The Home Depot’s first quarter sales, but the company still reported earnings that beat analysts’ expectations.

The Atlanta-based retail giant posted first quarter net sales of $24.9 billion, up 4.4% from the year-ago period but less than the $25.2 billion the Street expected. Total same-store sales rose 4.2%, also less than expected. It was the chain’s 28 consecutive quarter of positive comps, but also the lowest increase since the second quarter of 2015, which also registered 4.2%.

The company’s net income swelled to $2.4 billion, compared to $2.0 billion in the first quarter of 2017. Earnings per share were $2.08, versus the $2.05 per share that the Street expected.

“We are pleased by the strength of our business despite a slow start to the spring selling season,” said Craig Menear, chairman, CEO and president. “Outside of our seasonal business, we had solid results in all markets and categories and are seeing strong momentum in all lines of business during these first few weeks of May. These trends, as well as a favorable housing and macroeconomic backdrop, give us confidence to reaffirm our sales and earnings guidance for fiscal 2018.”

Home Depot reaffirmed its previous forecasts for 2018. It expects sales to rise roughly 6.5% and same-store sales to increase about 5%.

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Court gives OK to Southeastern Grocers’ reorg plan

BY Marianne Wilson

Southeastern Grocers’ amended Chapter 11 reorganization plan has received the green light from bankruptcy court.

The retailer, whose banners include Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie, said it expects to complete its financial restructuring process and emerge from Chapter 11 in the coming weeks. As previously announced, the plan will decrease the company’s overall debt levels by approximately $600 million (including $522 million of debt exchanged for equity in the reorganized company) and strengthen its balance sheet. Southeastern filed for Chapter 11 in March 2018.

Under the plan, the grocer closed some 94 stores. It will continue to operate more than 575 stores under the Bi-Lo, Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie banners.

“We are delighted with the Court’s swift approval which marks a major milestone in the transformation and correction of our business,” said Anthony Hucker, president and CEO, Southeastern Grocers. “This confirmation paves the way for us to emerge as a strong, viable business that is well-positioned to succeed in the competitive retail market.”

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