More traffic challenges from the dollar stores

Surging profits and a 6.7% first quarter same-store sales increase prompted Dollar General to raise its full year profit forecast by three cents. Family Dollar is scheduled to report comparable results later this month as the small discount store remains on a roll.

Dollar General certainly shows no signs of slowing down this year after posting first quarter results that saw the company’s total sales increase 13% to nearly $3.5 billion and net income increase 36% to $213 million. The 6.7% comp increase was driven by an increase in customer traffic and average transaction size, according to the company.

“Dollar General is starting off 2012 with strong performance in the first quarter due to excellent same-store sales growth of 6.7%, representing the fifth consecutive quarter of accelerating improvement,” said Rick Dreiling, chairman and CEO. “We are pleased to raise our full year financial outlook to now reflect adjusted (earnings per share) of $2.68 to $2.78. Our first quarter was strong, and we are pleased with our May sales performance.”

The company had previously forecast full year earnings in the range of $2.65 to $2.75

“I believe we are positioned well to invest in the future of our business as we continue to redefine small-box retailing and reinforce Dollar General’s role as America’s general store,” said Dreiling.

During the quarter, the company opened 128 new stores and remodeled or relocated 224 stores. In addition, a new distribution center in Alabama and a new leased distribution center in California began shipping merchandise to stores. In case you missed it, Retailing Today published a special report on Dollar General earlier this year.

Next up is Family Dollar, due to report third quarter results on June 28. The company is expected to report same store sales improvement from a combination of larger transaction size and increased traffic that is poised to benefit further from expansion of food offerings, cigarette sales and Redbox kiosks.