Discounters post stronger than expected March results

New York City -- Although there were some same-store drops among the discount retail players in March, most beat Wall Street expectations and showed that shoppers are continuing to spend despite a less-than-ideal economic climate.

Costco Wholesale Club was a strong performer in March, beating analysts’ estimates with a 7% rise in same-store sales for the month, excluding fuel. Wall Street expected a 5.5% increase.

Target Corp. posted a 5.5% same-store sales drop in March, but still beat analysts’ expectations of a 6.4%, decrease according to a Thomson Reuters poll. The discount chain said that groceries were the strongest category in the five weeks ended April 3, and clothing also performed well. Target said that the later Easter negatively impacted sales of candy and toys, in particular.

"For the most part retailers are posting a little better than expected March performance," said Dana Telsey, CEO of Telsey Advisory Group.

While Wal-Mart Stores doesn’t report monthly sales, its Mexican arm Wal-Mart de Mexico reported a 1.1% decrease in same-store sales for March.

Among other discount results during the month:

  •  SteinMart reported a 3.9% decrease in same-store sales;
  •  Ross comps dropped 1%;
  •  BJ’s Wholesale rose 1.3%.

The TJX Cos. reported a 1% same-store sales decline, which beat company and Wall Street expectations.

“As a reminder, we had planned March comp store sales down versus last year due to the timing of Easter as well as very favorable weather patterns in the prior year,” sad Carol Meyrowitz, TJX CEO. “Despite these challenges, we were encouraged to see comp store sales increases across all warm weather regions in the United States, which bodes well for the balance of the season.”