Dillard’s sidesteps stubborn winter in first quarter

While other retailers saw sales affected by a winter that overstayed its welcome, Dillard’s marked its 15th consecutive quarter of positive sales.

Despite weak sales in home and furniture, Dillard’s said sales trends in the first quarter were strongest in the men’s apparel and accessories category and the juniors’ and children’s apparel category followed by ladies’ accessories and lingerie.

The retailer reported total merchandise sales for the quarter of $1.539 billion, a 1% increase from $1.530 billion for the prior-year period. Comparable-store sales increased 2%.

Sales trends were strongest in the Central region, followed by the Eastern and Western regions, respectively.

“We reported record earnings per share of $2.56 compared to $2.50. Our 2% comparable store sales increase marks our 15th consecutive quarter of positive sales. Additionally, we executed $65.9 million of share buyback as a result of our strong cash flow,” said CEO William Dillard II.

Gross margin from retail operations decreased 14 basis points of sales for the quarter compared to the first quarter last year. The decline resulted primarily from increased markdowns compared to the prior-year first quarter.

At May 3, the company operated 278 Dillard’s locations and 18 clearance centers spanning 29 states, as well as its e-commerce site.