Big Lots Earnings Call Nuggets: Black Friday Performance and Merchandising

Big Lots (NYSE:BIG) recently reported its third quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Black Friday Performance

Meredith Adler – Barclays Capital: I have a couple of questions. The first would be about the performance for Black Friday or that of the – post Thanksgiving holiday weekend. And to the extent that it’s possible to look back through November and sort of adjust for Hurricane Sandy, would you have said that the month of November would have been disappointing or encouraging, if you could have adjusted for that.

Timothy A. Johnson – SVP, Finance: Meredith, this is TJ. I’ll start and maybe Steve can chime in on some of the categories as it relates to November. But Hurricane Sandy did have an impact in a region of the country where we’ve had some growth strategies in the Northeast up and down the coast to add stores. So that did have an impact on our results. We’re not quantifying at this time as to the specifics of comps would have been X versus Y. But certainly we saw an impact to our business during that timeframe. It’s difficult to really pull apart given the fact that there was a pretty significant event going on with the election during that timeframe. For the month of November though it is fair to say that as we worked through the month and got to really the last week of the month with a pretty robust Thanksgiving ad and a lot of plans and work that went into the Black Friday weekend that we did see our business trends improved. Again, I think that’s probably consistent with what you’ve heard from other retailers at least as we reviewed the November sales releases.

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Steven S. Fishman – Chairman, CEO and President: I’d only add that particularly the businesses that we really stressed and that we have aggressive plans from our Thanksgiving day perspective which was good and actually as the day went on we saw the day improved, our feelings were that probably a lot of people were trying to get out for those early openings to some of the other people and hopefully stop by our operation, but the whole day was good and Black Friday was acceptable so that those two days, particularly in the seasonal areas and we’ve kind of reiterated and talked about the case goods part of the business because of the Fireplace business. Electronics particularly in tablets and accessories all performed to expectations or better. So, I think, that’s why we are tempering our commitment to the quarter, but certainly we saw trend changes and things were better at the end of the month and they were in the beginning of the month and all along I will say frankly that we’ve anticipated this I’ve seen, particularly the major election years every four years particularly as you get into the middle to the end of October in the first week or two of November have always been a challenge and unfortunately this was no different than just compounding the Sandy issue didn’t help.