Nordstrom Q1 Earnings: Digital Soars, But Comp Sales Miss the Mark

Nordstrom beat analysts’ estimates for first-quarter earnings on Thursday, buoyed by strong digital performance, but fell short of comparable sales forecasts, sending its share price plummeting after hours.

The retailer posted revenues of $3.47 billion for Q1, $10 million higher than predicted and up 5.8 percent from the same period last year, thanks in part to the earlier timing of a Nordstrom Rewards event. (Sales from Nordstrom Rewards customers accounted for 53 percent of all purchases in the quarter.) Comparable sales came in at 0.6 percent versus analysts’ 1 percent estimates, with full-price stores outperforming off-price at 0.7 percent to 0.4 percent, a reversal of the trend in recent quarters, which has seen Nordstrom Rack, Last Chance, and Haute Look lead sales growth.

In response to the announcement, the retailer’s stock dropped more than 6 percent after hours, falling below $48 per share.

Still, there were bright spots: digital sales — a metric that includes online shopping as well as tools like buy online, pickup in store, store reserve, and Style Board, a digital personal-shopping tool — grew 18 percent over last year. The category now accounts for 29 percent of all sales, up from 25 percent last year, a number that could grow to a third if the trend continues as e-commerce gains market share and Nordstrom continues to invest in its digital offerings.

While many department stores close brick-and-mortar locations en masse, the Seattle-based chain opened eight in the quarter, including three stores in Canada, the first in the country, and a Nordstrom Men’s store in New York City.

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