BJ's Wholesale Earnings Illustrate Growing Fissures in Retail

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U.S. retailers appear to be dividing into two camps: those that are weathering the coronavirus storm well, and those that are not.

BJ's Wholesale Club (BJ) - Get Report appears to be in the navigating-the-storm-well camp, reporting on Thursday record fiscal second-quarter sales and earnings that blew past analysts’ forecasts.

The Westborough, Mass.-based company said it earned $107.5 million, or 77 cents an adjusted share, in the fiscal quarter ended Aug. 1, almost double the $55 million, or 39 cents an adjusted share, it earned in the comparable year-ago quarter. Analysts polled by FactSet had been expecting earnings of 60 cents a share.

Sales rang in at $3.9 billion, up from $3.3 billion a year ago and ahead of analysts’ forecasts of $3.7 billion. Same-store sales, a key metric among retailers, rose by 24.2%, including e-commerce growth of more than 300%, the company said. Including gas sales, same-store sales rose by 17.2%. 

The results reflect the fissure emerging between retailers like BJ’s, Target (TGT) - Get Report, Walmart (WMT) - Get Report, Costco (COST) - Get Report and others that consumers have continued to rely on for essential goods through the coronavirus pandemic, and others like Neiman Marcus, Macy's (M) - Get Report, Lord & Taylor and Tailored Brands (TLRD) - Get Report, who have struggled to get consumers to open their pocketbooks for things like clothing and accessories.

They also point to a somewhat obvious conclusion: that consumers are opening their pocketbooks for what they need, and less so for what they want. 

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