February was kind to mass market retailers, as generally mild weather proved no obstacle to healthy shopper traffic.


February, mass market retailers, Target Corp., Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and chief executive officer, Costco Wholesale Corp., Fred's Inc., chief executive officer Bruce Efird, Duckwall-ALCO Stores Inc., president and chief executive officer Rich Wilson
























































































































































































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Mass retailers see strong sales in February

March 2nd, 2012

NEW YORK – February was kind to mass market retailers, as generally mild weather proved no obstacle to healthy shopper traffic.

Among discounters, Target Corp. continued to rebound strongly from what had been a disappointing holiday season. Net sales rose 8% to $5.13 billion, driven by a 7% surge in comparable-store sales that easily beat the average 5.2% increase expected among analysts polled by FactSet.

"February sales were well above our expectations, due to stronger-than-expected guest traffic combined with a solid increase in transaction size," said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and chief executive officer. "We're very pleased with the pace of our sales since the holiday season, though we continue to plan for a first-quarter comparable-store sales increase of around 4%."

The nation's leading membership warehouse club operator, Costco Wholesale Corp., also posted solid results, as net sales for the four weeks ended February 26 rose 10% to $7.04 billion. Comparable-warehouse results advanced 8% chainwide as well as in domestic and international units. Excluding the positive impact of gasoline prices and the negative effect of currency exchange, U.S. warehouses logged a 7% increase while international units saw comparable-store results up 9%. Total comp-store sales on that basis advanced 7%.

Among regional discounters, Memphis-based Fred's Inc. was disappointed with a 0.7% dip in comparable-store results despite a 4% increase in net sales to $159.1 million. "February sales demonstrated the challenge we have during the first quarter with advertising circular timing and calendar and holiday shifts," said chief executive officer Bruce Efird in a statement. "We were pleased that total sales were on plan for the month, reflecting the performance of our newer stores and pharmacies, which was ahead of expectations."

Efird added that most of the shortfall in same-store sales stemmed from the lawn and garden department, which was impacted both by wet weather and a shift in the timing of ad circulars.

There were no disappointments, however, at Duckwall-ALCO Stores Inc., headquartered in Abilene, Kan. Sales from continuing operations gained 3.4% to $36.5 million, while February same-store sales excluding fuel rose 1.1%.

"Sales for February were driven by increases in housewares, small appliances, furniture, food, health care and beauty care products," said president and chief executive officer Rich Wilson. "We are pleased that our strategy to reduce promotional activity in the electronics business was offset by increased sales as we enhanced marketing and product assortments in more profitable areas of the store."

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