With its thrifty clientele stuck at home because of the coronavirus pandemic, Framingham-based TJX lost $887 million in the first quarter of its fiscal year, the company said Thursday.
Red ink on the balance sheet marks a dramatic reversal of fortune for a retailer that had consistently outperformed competitors with a brick-and-mortar business model that seemed immune to online shopping trends. In hodgepodge aisles at TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods, "Maxxinistas" — as the company's loyal customers are known — enjoy a bargain-hunting experience that is hard to replicate online, and is rare in a time when the likes of Filene's Basement and Building 19 have closed stores.
According to TJX Chief Executive Ernie Herrman, sales were off to another strong start this year, before the company temporarily shuttered all of its roughly 4,500 stores in mid-March. About one-third of stores have reopened in the past three weeks.
"Initial sales overall have been above last year's sales across all states and countries for the over 1,100 stores that have been reopened for at least a week," the company said in a statement. "However, it is still early in the quarter, and sales could fluctuate."
TJX stores remain closed in the company's home state of Massachusetts. Retailers are slated to reopen no sooner than June 8, in the second phase of a coronavirus recovery plan unveiled this week by Gov. Charlie Baker.
Coronavirus-induced closures have battered other retail chains, as well. Macy's on Thursday estimated its first-quarter loss will be about $1 billion. Kohl's on Tuesday reported a $541 million loss in the first quarter. J.C. Penney filed for bankruptcy last week.