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Express sales improvements falter following coronavirus spike in late June

Published
Jul 11, 2020
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With 95% of its stores now open, Columbus, Ohio-based fashion retailer Express, Inc. has been seeing improvements in traffic and sales but experienced notable declines following a spike in Covid-19 cases in a number of states in late June.
 

Express has been seeing steady improvements in its reopened stores - Photo: Express


Sales and traffic improved progressively through the third week of June as the company pushed forward with gradual store reopenings, with higher conversion levels meaning that sales increased faster than traffic.

Indeed, comparable sales in the retailer’s open stores improved from over negative 50% at the start of May to around negative 15% in mid-June, while traffic levels improved from negative 65% to approximately negative 30% in the same period.

However, with the rapid increase in the number of new Covid-19 cases in several states towards the end of June, Express saw significant decreases in both sales and traffic in Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas, declines which were large enough to have a noticeable negative impact on the company’s overall financial results.
 
Nonetheless, as has been the case for many retailers during the pandemic, Express’ digital sales have made consistent progress. Digital demand improved throughout the last quarter, and the channel also achieved a positive comp in June.
 
The coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. just as Express was getting started with its “Expressway Forward” transformation strategy, unveiled at the New York Stock Exchange at the end of January. According to the company, prior to the health crisis, its business had already begun to show signs of improvement following the implementation of key turnaround initiatives focused on the strategy’s four points of focus: product, brand, customer and execution.
 
“While the recovery of our industry will clearly take some time, our strategic transformation remains on track,” said Express CEO Tim Baxter in a release. “We are encouraged by our customers’ response to the new Express product vision and brand positioning, and remain focused on what we can control as we continue to drive the Expressway Forward strategy and advance towards our long term objective of profitable growth.”
 
Launched in 1980, Express currently operates more than 500 retail and factory outlet stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

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