Home Furnishings Push Ross Stores To 4% Comp Advance

Home was one of three departments that led Ross Stores to a 4% comparable store sales gain in the second quarter.

“Home, dresses and shoes were the top performing merchandise categories for both the second quarter and first six months,” said Michael Balmuth, Ross vice chairman and CEO. “Same store sales for all three businesses were up in the high single to low double digit percentage range during the quarter.”

Bobbi Chaville, Ross senior director of investor relations, told HomeWorld Business that consumer response has been driving success in home furnishings. She said home constituted 23% to 24% of Ross business in recent years, and the company has been buying in response to consumer demand to maximize the performance of that business. As consumer spending shifts between various product categories in home, Ross changes emphasis in its buying to expand emerging segments and wind down those that are softening. The company’s ability to effectively gauge and execute against shopper preferences throughout the store has been an important factor in recent success. In applying the strategy throughout the store, Ross provides customers with a constant stream of trending products as an enticement to revisit. So it can draw consumers to one of several departments, then coax them to shop the rest by highlighting hot products. “Diversity is a great thing about our model,” she said.

For the 13 weeks ended July 31, 2010, Ross posted earnings of $129.3 million, or $1.07 per share, up from $103.4 million, or 82 cents per share, for the prior-year period. Sales for the quarter gained 8% to $1.91 billion, with comparable store sales up 4%.