Fred’s Comps Slide In September

For the five-week fiscal month of September, Fred’s posted a comparable store sales decline of 4.9% versus the month last year. Total sales for September slipped 5.5% to $199.9 million from the previous month last year.

Michael Bloom, Fred’s CEO, said, “September sales faced a tough year-over-year comparison. The front store also experienced calendar shifts for federal assistance payments, continued substantial reductions in SNAP payments and an increased impact related to competitive pricing strategies, particularly in consumables categories. Retail pharmacy performed consistent with recent trends and continued to be pressured by the shift to 90-day prescriptions. On the other hand, specialty pharmacy, while experiencing low-single-digit negative comparable sales due to an industry wide slowdown in Hepatitis C drugs, is continuing its steady consecutive month-over-month growth.”

In the immediate future, Fred’s will pay attention to optimizing its store and supply chain operations as well as focusing on markets where the company is especially strong, while making additional investments in marketing and technology, all to drive disciplined growth.

“A significant number of our stores are performing well, experiencing positive or at least flat comparable store sales. We have identified our weaker markets and are working to mitigate their business trends. We know we can be the best in the markets we serve, we know our customers’ needs, and we know we can deliver access to pharmacy and health care services as well as a broad, value-based assortment of products. These are highly differentiating competitive advantages for Fred’s, and we know they resonate with our customers,” Bloom said.

Fred’s operates 649 discount general merchandise stores and three specialty pharmacy-only locations in the southeastern U.S.