As of Thursday morning (May 21), only TJX had reported its earnings. While they were predictably down from its last fiscal year, the numbers did show a fast uptick for store opening traffic.
For its first fiscal year quarter ending May 2, 2020, net sales were $4.4 billion, ending up with a net loss of $887 million. That number was hardly a surprise, as all the company’s revenue came from its limited store openings during the quarter. TJX has no appreciable eCommerce capacity and shut all of its 4,529 stores worldwide on March 19.
According to the earnings statement, the company had been tracking well before the pandemic hit. For the month of February, it delivered a 5 percent comp store increase across its TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods brands.
“We have been pleased to reopen as many stores as we have in May, as well as our eCommerce websites,” said Ernie Herrman, CEO and president of TJX. “Although it’s still early and the retail environment remains uncertain, we have been encouraged with the very strong sales we have seen with our initial reopenings. We believe this very strong start speaks to our compelling value proposition and the appeal of our treasure-hunt shopping experience, as well as pent-up demand. It has been great to see, especially for the teams working so hard on the reopening preparations and our associates welcoming back our customers.
“We are currently seeing plentiful off-price buying opportunities, which, as we look to the remainder of the year, gives us confidence in having excellent brands and quality merchandise available to us,” Herrman continued. “With our flexible business model and ability to adapt quickly to changing market conditions and customer preferences, we will be pursuing these buying opportunities. Above all, we are convinced that our mission to deliver great value to consumers every day will continue to be our enduring retail formula today and in the future.”
Although Herrman mentioned reopening eCommerce, the company uses its sites mainly as store locators. It remains to be seen whether TJX will use the pandemic as an opportunity to step up its online efforts.
Ross Dress For Less will announce earnings later today, and is expected to mirror the TJX drop for most of the quarter. The company’s limited reopenings have been marked by huge crowds, including a brawl yesterday at its Rio Grande, Texas location. The retailer’s pandemic activity was marked by a $1.5 million donation to support charities, including the Boys and Girls Clubs, and skipping out on rent payments.
According to a filing in Florida district court on May 5, Palm Springs Mile Associates, Ltd. alleged that Ross owed $5.5 million in unpaid rent on three of its locations in the state. As the complaint details, Ross Stores failed to pay rent that was due on May 1 and “has further advised that its non-payment of rent will continue, as a result of the circumstances related to COVID-19,” per reports.
Bob’s Stores, a 30-store sporting goods chain in the Northeast, had also ducked eCommerce in the interest of driving consumers to physical locations. However, during the pandemic, that strategy changed. The company did not make a major announcement as to when it shifted, but the chain now has a fully functional eCommerce site, complete with steep discounts of up to 80 percent.