Ross Stores’ Traffic Lowered By Pandemic

Ross Stores’ Traffic Lowered By Pandemic

Off-price apparel and home fashion chain Ross Stores, Inc., which has 1,585 locations in 40 states, said that fourth-quarter sales came out ahead of its forecasts, although the pandemic proved to be a headwind for traffic, according to a press release.

“While our fourth-quarter sales exceeded our expectations, the upsurge of the virus resulted in lower traffic, especially in California, our largest state, where we were subject to more stringent occupancy and operating hour restrictions,” CEO Barbara Rentler said in the release.

Ross Stores’ board recently gave permission for the reinstatement of the quarterly cash dividend at a rate of $0.285 for each share. The quarterly dividend is payable on Mar. 31 to investors on the books as of Mar. 16 of this year.

“The resumption of our dividend payout in 2021 reflects our strong cash position and confidence in the company’s long-term prospects,” Rentler noted.

As for its overall results, Ross Stores reported 67 cents in earnings per share on $4.2 billion in sales for the quarter.

The company said that its guidance and results throughout fiscal 2021 will be reported as compared to fiscal 2019. The retailer says that comparison is more relevant because of the sizable effect of the extended closure of its operations in the spring of 2020 and the continuing difficulties brought about by the pandemic last year.

To that end, comparable store sales for the 13 weeks concluding May 1, 2021 are forecasted to be down 1 percent to 5 percent in contrast to the 13 weeks concluding May 4, 2019. In addition, earnings per share for the 2021 fiscal first quarter are projected to be 74 cents to 86 cents.

The news comes as Kohl’s, the operator of 1,100 department stores, said that its fourth-quarter sales dropped 10.1 percent, tempered by a 21 percent rise in its digital operations. However, the retailer said it continued to bolster its financial position and finished out the quarter with $2.3 billion in cash.