T.J.Maxx, and Marshalls in New York City in 2020.

T.J. Maxx and Marshalls parent The TJX Cos. Inc. is making up ground lost during the pandemic last year — and topping its 2019 numbers. 

The off-pricer gained ground in the first quarter — against the lockdown-stricken quarter a year earlier and the same period in 2019. Sales of $10.1 billion marked a 129 percent rise from the comparable quarter in 2020 and a 9 percent gain from the first quarter of 2019. 

But COVID-19 restrictions are still weighing on the company. While its U.S. stores were open in the first quarter, stores in Europe were closed for about 76 percent of the period, while the store fleet in Canada was dark for about 25 percent of the quarter. 

Altogether the company said stores were closed for about 14 percent of the quarter, compared with 50 percent a year ago.

TJX’s net profits for the three months ended May 1 tallied $533.9 million and compared with losses of $887.5 million in the first quarter of last year. 

Ernie Herrman, chief executive officer and president, said while the home business continued to be very strong, the apparel category appeared to be benefiting as consumers start to “resume more normal activities.” 

“Clearly, our treasure-hunt shopping experience, eclectic mix of merchandise, and great brands and values continue to resonate with shoppers across our geographies,” Herrman said. “While the environment remains uncertain, particularly internationally, we are convinced we are strongly positioned as we emerge from this health crisis.”

On a conference call with Wall Street analysts, the CEO added that about 300 of its 4,639 stores were still closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“We continue to prioritize the health and well-being of our associates and customers in our stores, our distribution centers and our offices,” he said.

But the world is loosening up some.

“We believe we saw a benefit from consumers feeling more comfortable leaving their homes, visiting our stores and being happy with the brands and values they found,” Herrman said of the quarter. “Our home businesses across all of our divisions continued their phenomenal sales trends.”

TJX gets many of its goods from full price retailers looking to move excess inventory. And while many companies have been more cautious with their buy this year and are doing everything they can to keep inventory now, Herrman said there are still deals to be had on inventory.

“The buying environment is excellent with the marketplace loaded with a great selection of merchandise across good, better and best brands and trending categories,” he said. “Our buyers are doing a tremendous job sourcing quality-branded merchandise to keep up with the strong consumer demand that we have been seeing.”

And there are other opportunities in a reset retail market.

“We see a significant opportunity to grow our global store base at each of our divisions,” Herrman said. “In total, we believe we can open more than 1,600 additional stores to grow to about 6,275 stores in the long term just with our current banners and our current countries. Availability of real estate is terrific, and we see plenty of opportunities to open new stores or relocate existing stores. Further, we believe our strategy of locating stores in convenient, highly accessible locations makes it very easy for shoppers to find and visit us. We are anticipating incremental traffic once consumers return to their workplaces and go out more as they will be passing by our stores much more frequently.”

 

More from WWD:

The Politics of Fashion: A New World Order

Victoria’s Secret’s Single Life

Canada Goose Back in Growth Mode

Luxury Acquisitions Just Beginning as Big Players Consolidate: HSBC