Columbus, Ohio – Big Lots’ soft home sales have been sliding since their 2020 peak. But to see how much ground the retailer has lost, you have to look back to well before the arrival of Covid-19.
For the first 6 months of the current fiscal year, soft home sales fell 14% to $258.0 million, according to Big Lots’s Form 10-Q filing with the SEC earlier this month. That marked the third consecutive year of declines in 1st half sales for the category.
Big Lots – the 15th largest retailer of home textiles in the country, according to HTT’s Top Retailers report – isn’t the only major chain that has seen its home business whither following the Covid-driven boom in home. In addition, the retailer’s emphasis on its furniture business has dampened overall sales this year as its core low-income customers continue to eschew higher-ticket purchases.
The retailer began responding to the malaise several months ago by chucking in-line programs to make way for close-outs. Last year, Big Lots cut roughly 10% of overall skus to accommodate closeouts. Earlier this year, it made additional cuts in soft home to create more open-to-buy for branded top-of-bed and pillows coming into the market as Tuesday Morning, Bed Bath & Beyond and Christmas Tree Shops teetered toward bankruptcy and liquidation.
The company is now focused on the cost reduction and productivity front. In a late August call with investors, president and CEO Bruce Thorn noted that Big Lots ended Q2 with liquidity of $258 million and further benefited from the proceeds of a $294 million sale/leaseback deal completed on Aug. 25.
He told analysts that he expected the business would soon begin to turn, adding that Big Lots would be prepared to capitalize on the opportunity when it came.