TJX says March same-store sales fell 2% on shift in Easter holiday, cold weather

TJX Cos., the Framingham company that operates such off-price retail chains as T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods, reported that sales for the five-week period that ended April 6 were $2.4 billion, up 5 percent over the same period a year ago.

Photo taken from a T.J. Maxx website.

But at stores open at least a year, sales for the five-week period fell 2 percent, the company said in a press release.

Retail analysts had been expecting TJX to report a 1-percent decline in March same-store sales, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

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Sales at stores open at least a year are known as same-store sales, or comparable store sales, and they are regarded by Wall Street as a key measure of a retailer’s health.

Generally a star performer, TJX cited a shift in the timing of Easter and recent cold weather as factors in its unusual same-store decline.

In a statement, TJX chief executive Carol Meyrowitz said: “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 US, Canada, and Europe. In regions of the US 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 $.60-$.62. 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.”