Shoe Carnival Steps Up Online Efforts as Coronavirus Keeps Its Stores Shuttered

Shoe Carnival Inc. is ramping up its online efforts as the coronavirus continues to keep its stores shuttered.

The Evansville, Ind.-based retailer, which reported fourth-quarter earnings at yesterday’s market close, logged earnings per diluted share of 24 cents, versus analysts’ bets of 21 cents, on profits of $3.5 million. For the period ended Feb. 1, revenues improved 2.2% to $239.9 million, compared to forecasts of $238 million, and same-store sales advanced 3.2% from the prior year.

Through March 10, comps rose 4.5%, exceeding the company’s expectations. While it recorded a “significant” decline in brick-and-mortar traffic leading up to the closures of its stores last week due to COVID-19, Shoe Carnival noted that its e-commerce sales have “grown significantly.” Over the past week, it said that a “steep acceleration” of online customer engagement drove triple-digit order increases on its site.

“In light of the current macro environment and our stores being temporarily closed, we are shifting resources and marketing initiatives from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce to further accelerate our online growth trends,” president and chief customer officer Mark Worden said during the company’s fourth-quarter conference call. “While these are very early days, I’m encouraged by the exceptional team effort to respond to the external challenges we are facing today.”

Last week, Shoe Carnival followed in the footsteps of many retailers that have announced store closures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, which has sickened more than 69,000 people in the United States. Its outposts across the U.S. and in Puerto Rico remain shut down until April 2, and the company will continue to pay store associates during that period.

“The rapid spread of this virus has far-reaching implications for our global community,” CEO Cliff Sifford said in the call. “Shoe Carnival has a long history of navigating through various difficult cycles, both good and bad. Our team is incredibly disciplined and able to move quickly as conditions change. In addition, we have always maintained a very strong financial position and balance sheets for times just like these.”

At the end of February, Shoe Carnival recorded $57 million in cash and a $50 million credit facility. The company said it would suspend share repurchases during the fiscal year but does not anticipate changes in its quarterly cash dividend policy. Its shares surged 12% after yesterday’s market close.

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