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March Chills TJX Apparel Sales, But Home Weathers The Storm

The TJX Cos. has reported that March 2013 sales advanced by 5% to $2.4 billion. For the five-week period ended April 6, however, company comparable store sales slipped 2%.

In a conference call, the company noted that the date of Easter and unseasonably cold weather across much of the United States, Canada and Europe had chilled sales. One reflection of the weather impact was strong home sales relative to apparel results, the company noted.

At the Marmaxx group, including T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, comp store sales declined by 3%. HomeGoods, in contrast, was up 6%. In Canada, comps were down 5%, and, in Europe, comps were flat.

In the Marmaxx group on a regional basis, the West Coast, Florida and the Southwest, all areas where weather had a lesser impact in the month, performed best, TJX noted. Marmaxx apparel comps decreased 5% while those for home fashions gained 7%.

Carol Meyrowitz, TJX CEO said in comments about the company’s results, “Due to the year-over-year timing of Easter, we had not planned March to be a strong month against last year’s high increase, and our comparable store sales were in line with our expected range. This was despite the extraordinarily cold weather across most regions in the U.S., Canada and Europe. In regions of the U.S. where weather was not an issue, we saw comp sales increases. Further, overall business trends improved as the weather became warmer. For the first quarter, even with March sales at the low end of our expected range, merchandise margins are on track to be better than last year and we are narrowing the range of our earnings per share guidance to 60 cents to 62 cents. It is worth noting that this represents a very solid increase over last year’s first quarter, which had the highest EPS growth of that year. April is off to a good start, our inventories are in great shape and we are seeing an enormous amount of desirable product in the marketplace.”