S&P 500   5,137.08
DOW   39,087.38
QQQ   445.61
South Korean doctors hold massive anti-government rally over medical school recruitment plan
Critical asset just had biggest fall on record (Ad)
Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus is granted bail in a Bangladesh graft case
Trader Joe's chicken soup dumplings recalled for possibly containing permanent marker plastic
Critical asset just had biggest fall on record (Ad)
The former chairman of the state-owned Bank of Beijing is being investigated for alleged corruption
Chicago 'mansion' tax to fund homeless services stuck in legal limbo while on the ballot
This is the #1 Stock to Buy for the AI Tidal Wave (Ad)
What to watch for as China's major political meeting of the year gets underway
Head Start preschools aim to fight poverty, but their teachers struggle to make ends meet
S&P 500   5,137.08
DOW   39,087.38
QQQ   445.61
South Korean doctors hold massive anti-government rally over medical school recruitment plan
Critical asset just had biggest fall on record (Ad)
Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus is granted bail in a Bangladesh graft case
Trader Joe's chicken soup dumplings recalled for possibly containing permanent marker plastic
Critical asset just had biggest fall on record (Ad)
The former chairman of the state-owned Bank of Beijing is being investigated for alleged corruption
Chicago 'mansion' tax to fund homeless services stuck in legal limbo while on the ballot
This is the #1 Stock to Buy for the AI Tidal Wave (Ad)
What to watch for as China's major political meeting of the year gets underway
Head Start preschools aim to fight poverty, but their teachers struggle to make ends meet
S&P 500   5,137.08
DOW   39,087.38
QQQ   445.61
South Korean doctors hold massive anti-government rally over medical school recruitment plan
Critical asset just had biggest fall on record (Ad)
Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus is granted bail in a Bangladesh graft case
Trader Joe's chicken soup dumplings recalled for possibly containing permanent marker plastic
Critical asset just had biggest fall on record (Ad)
The former chairman of the state-owned Bank of Beijing is being investigated for alleged corruption
Chicago 'mansion' tax to fund homeless services stuck in legal limbo while on the ballot
This is the #1 Stock to Buy for the AI Tidal Wave (Ad)
What to watch for as China's major political meeting of the year gets underway
Head Start preschools aim to fight poverty, but their teachers struggle to make ends meet
S&P 500   5,137.08
DOW   39,087.38
QQQ   445.61
South Korean doctors hold massive anti-government rally over medical school recruitment plan
Critical asset just had biggest fall on record (Ad)
Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus is granted bail in a Bangladesh graft case
Trader Joe's chicken soup dumplings recalled for possibly containing permanent marker plastic
Critical asset just had biggest fall on record (Ad)
The former chairman of the state-owned Bank of Beijing is being investigated for alleged corruption
Chicago 'mansion' tax to fund homeless services stuck in legal limbo while on the ballot
This is the #1 Stock to Buy for the AI Tidal Wave (Ad)
What to watch for as China's major political meeting of the year gets underway
Head Start preschools aim to fight poverty, but their teachers struggle to make ends meet

Dollar Tree Q3 2023 Earnings Call Transcript


Listen to Conference Call View Latest SEC 10-Q Filing

Participants

Corporate Executives

  • Robert A. LaFleur
    Senior Vice President, Investor Relations
  • Rick Dreiling
    Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
  • Jeff Davis
    Chief Financial Officer

Analysts

Presentation

Operator

Hello and welcome to the Dollar Tree Third Quarter 2023 Earnings Call and Webcast. [Operator Instructions] A question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. We ask that you please limit yourselves to one question [Operator Instructions]. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

It's now my pleasure to turn the conference over to Bob LaFleur, Senior Vice-President, Investor Relations. Please go ahead, sir.

Robert A. LaFleur
Senior Vice President, Investor Relations at Dollar Tree

Good morning, and thank you for joining us today to discuss Dollar Tree's third quarter results. With me today are Dollar Tree's Chairman and CEO, Rick Dreiling; and CFO, Jeff Davis.

Before we begin, I would like to remind everyone that some of the remarks that we will make today about the company's expectations, plans, and future prospects are considered forward-looking statements under the safe harbor provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by our forward-looking statements.

For information on the risks and uncertainties that could affect our actual results, please see the Risk Factors, Business and Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Conditions and Results of Operations sections in our Annual Report on Form 10-K filed on March 10, 2023, our Form 10-Q, for the most recently ended fiscal quarter, our most recent press release, and Form 8-K, and other filings with the SEC. We caution against reliance on any forward-looking statements made today and we disclaim any obligation to update any forward-looking statements except as required by law.

Also during this call, we will discuss certain non-GAAP financial measures, reconciliations of these non-GAAP items to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures are provided in today's earnings release available on the IR section of our website. These non-GAAP measures are not intended to be a substitute for GAAP results. Unless otherwise stated, we will refer to our financial results on a GAAP basis. Additionally, unless otherwise stated, all comparisons discussed today are for the third quarter of fiscal 2023 and are against the same period a year ago. Please note that a supplemental slide deck outlining selected operating metrics is available on the IR section of our website.

Following our prepared remarks. Rick and Jeff will take your questions. Given the number of callers who would like to participate in today's session, we ask that you limit yourself to one question.

And now I'd like to turn the call over to Rick.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Thanks, Bob, I'd like to welcome everyone joining us on the call today. In brief, thanks to the dedication and hard work of our teams and continued execution towards our business transformation, third quarter results were well within our expected range. In a challenging retail environment were the accumulating pressures of inflation, reduced government benefits, and depleted savings have negatively affected lower-income consumers, our top-line performance outpaced most of our peers. We accomplished this by taking market share in both segments, which we believe reflects the initial impact of our investments and transformation initiatives.

Despite Family Dollar's softer comps and $0.05 per share of unexpected costs from the previously announced voluntary recall of OTC and other products, we delivered $0.97 of EPS. Our sales momentum continues to be mostly traffic-driven, as we attract new customers and gain both a unit and dollar market share. In the last 12 months, we've added 4.3 million new customers at Dollar Tree and 2.3 million new customers at Family Dollar. Importantly, most of these first-time customers come back to shop with us multiple times after their first visit. In fact, our loyal customers are now the third-largest retail customer base in the United States.

As importantly Dollar Tree's is attracting customers from a broader range of income levels. Most of our new customers over the past year have household incomes over $125,000 and this income demographic, which is a significant contributor to Dollar Tree's quarter three comp growth. At Family Dollar, our price-value perception remains strong after last year's price investments, which we cycled in July. That said Family Dollar fell short of our quarter three comp expectations. Similar to what other retailers have reported, we experienced softening trends throughout the quarter, particularly in October as lower-income consumers responded to the accumulated impact of inflation and reduced government benefits, we saw a notable pullback in spending, particularly in higher-margin discretionary categories.

I will now review some of our third quarter highlights. For the third quarter, on a consolidated basis, we delivered a 5.4% increase in our net sales to $7.3 billion. This was driven by comp growth of 3.9% with traffic up 7% in average ticket down a little less than 1%. Operating income came in at $301.7 million, which resulted in EPS of $0.97, including the negative $0.05 impact from the OTC recall.

In the Dollar Tree segment, our comp was up 5.4% with traffic increasing by 7%, and average ticket decreasing by 1.5%. We are especially pleased with these results as they come on top of a 0.6% comp last year. Our consumable comp was up 11.1% and discretionary was up 1.1%. We believe the consumable strength at Dollar Tree this quarter as well as our strong multi-year discretionary comp shows customers are embracing our compelling value proposition in this strange economic environment. According to Nielsen, Dollar Tree gained an impressive 30 basis points of consumables market share in the third quarter as our unit volume grew 6%, while market unit volume declined.

In the Family Dollar segment, our comp was up 2% with traffic increasing 1.4% and average ticket increasing 0.7%. Our consumable comp was especially strong at 6.2%, while discretionary was down meaningfully at 12.5%, particularly in categories like home decor, electronics, and toys. In our view, these trends underscore how lower-income households are under increasing financial stress and directing their spending towards needs-based goods. While traffic and ticket were both positive for the quarter results did soften substantially as we move through the quarter with average ticket turning negative in October as our customers pulled back and we realize the adverse impact of the OTC recall. Even with these external challenges, Family Dollar grew market share in consumables with both unit and dollar growth exceeding the market by wide margins.

Although our low prices enabled us to operate from a position of strength in consumables, our lower-income customers at Family Dollar had been especially pressured by reductions in government SNAP benefits. Nationwide third quarter SNAP benefits were down 23% on a year-over-year basis, which was much more than the 5% reduction in quarter one or the 16% reduction in quarter two. Timing-wise the month-by-month deceleration in our quarter-three comps match the progressive reductions in national SNAP payments throughout the quarter. In addition to pressure from lower SNAP payments, Family Dollar's comps were negatively affected by lower tax refunds this year. With that said, I believe that the wide range of growth initiatives we have in place will help us maintain our momentum relative to the competition. As a value retailer, we are uniquely positioned to meet customers' needs in a challenging economic environment. We remain focused on the factors that we can control, and we'll continue to navigate as best we can around those that we don't.

Now, let me take a few minutes to update you on our transformation journey. Our merchandising, IT and supply chain initiatives are on-time and on-budget and we are pleased with our progress to date. At Dollar Tree, we're ahead of schedule in our multi-price journey. Our Dollar Tree Plus assortment is now available in 4,500 stores and we are on track to finish the year with more than 4,900. Our Dollar Tree frozen and refrigerated assortments are now in 6,500 stores, significantly ahead of our original year-end target of 5,500. Customers are clearly responding to our expanded multi-price assortment as our research shows us that 17% of US households have purchased a multi-priced product from a Dollar Tree store at lealeast inn the past 12 months. Importantly, these customers are adding multi-priced products on top of their traditional baskets. For example in quarter three, the average multi-price basket included three multi-priced items and 11.6 traditional $25 items.

At Family Dollar, we completed our planogram resets by November as scheduled, improving and expanding our product assortment while increasing our shelf profile and merchandising to 78 inches across the portfolio. We're on track to renovate more than 1,000 Family Dollar stores by year-end. We have now upgraded 600 Family Dollar stores to our H2.5 rule to extra small box format. In quarter three, private brand penetration at Family Dollar reached 14%, a quarter ahead of schedule and we are on pace to hit our 20% target by 2026. We are also on track to add over 70 new SKUs to our Family wellness product line and more than 100 new private brand SKUs in total by the end of December. Within that same timeframe, we also expect to complete our conversion of 300 control brands to private brands.

In real estate, we opened 197 new stores in quarter three and we are on track to meet our target of 600 new stores to 650 new stores this year. In supply chain, we are preparing to implement our streamlined delivery process for stores serviced by our math used in North Carolina distribution center with roto carts and liftgate trailers starting next month. We have been testing our roto carts and the feedback has been extremely positive. We remain on schedule for all of our distribution centers to be using roto carts by the end of 2027. Across our teams, the investments we've made in our people, including increased wages in key markets, simplified work at the store level, and increased communications throughout the company are driving meaningful improvements in store turnover and associate satisfaction.

Additionally, as we prepared for our busiest season of the year, I am proud to report that our Annual National Hiring Day in May and October was a huge success. We hired nearly 14,000 part-time associates to work in our stores, for the current holiday season, an all-time record for this event. While we still have a lot of work to do in this transformational journey. I am pleased with what we've accomplished to date. We are focused on our plans to accelerate sales and grow earnings and I remain confident in our ability to execute this ambitious undertaking. That said, this journey also needs to be dynamic and adapt to changing market conditions and our learnings along the way. We believe being thoughtful about our store portfolio will help enhance our results. To maximize value creation, we need to periodically reevaluate our portfolio in terms of current market conditions, individual store performance, and overall portfolio considerations.

To this end, we have initiated a comprehensive review of our Family Dollar portfolio to address underperforming stores that are not aligned with our transformative vision for the company. This will involve among other things, identifying stores as candidates for closure, rebannering, or relocation with the goal of ensuring that each asset under the Family Dollar banner is delivering its full value for our shareholders on a sustainable basis. I'm a strong believer in the Family Dollar brand and what it means to our customers and associates in thousands of communities across the country. Going forward, we need to ensure that the Family Dollar portfolio is well-positioned for success and meets the financial and operating objectives of our organization and the expectations of our valued customers and associates. We believe that this action will fortify our base, strengthen our brand, and allow Family Dollar to achieve its full growth potential.

Jeff will now review our financial results and outlook for the remainder of the year.

Jeff Davis
Chief Financial Officer at Dollar Tree

Thank you, Rick, and good morning everyone. In the third quarter, our Dollar Tree and Family Dollar segments both generated higher levels of customer traffic, unit volume, and increased market share, overall regenerated 5% more gross profit dollars in the third quarter, than we did last year, as consumers continue to respond positively to our growth initiatives.

Consistent with prior quarter trends, sales mix continues to shift towards consumables. This trend was more pronounced at Family Dollar where our third quarter consumables mix reached an all-time high of 82%.

Looking at the business on a consolidated basis. Net sales increased 5.4% to $7.3 billion. Operating income declined 20.9% to $301.7 million. Operating margin compressed 140 basis points, which was a substantial trend improvement versus the first two quarters of the year. The contraction in Q3 operating margin was driven by a 15 basis point decrease in gross margin and a 125 basis point increase in SG&A rate. Gross margin contracted, primarily from higher shrink and unfavorable product mix, increased distribution cost, and markdowns from the OTC recall. This was partially offset by lower freight costs while still elevated across both banners shrink results were mostly in line with our expectations. We have now completed physical inventory checks across more than 90% of our stores with a balanced set for completion in January.

SG&A expenses expanded primarily from ongoing labor investments in our stores, IT costs, depreciation, and facility costs. Our effective tax rate was 21.8% versus 23.4%. Our tax rate was favorable versus expectations as higher work opportunity tax credits and lower net state taxes were partially offset by higher non-deductible expenses. Net income was $212 million and diluted EPS was $0.97 versus a $1.20. The net impact of the OTC recall was approximately $0.05 per share.

At the business segment level, Dollar Tree's net sales increased by 6.6% to $4 billion. Operating income declined 3.4% to $482.7 million and operating margin compressed approximately 125 basis points, driven by a 55 basis-point decrease in gross margin and a 70 basis-point increase in SG&A rate. Gross margin contracted, primarily from higher product costs, distribution center costs, and shrink. These were partially offset by lower freight and sales leverage in occupancy costs. SG&A expenses expanded principally from store labor investments, minimum wage increases, and facility costs. These were partially offset by sales leverage.

Family Dollar's net sales increased by 3.9% to $3.3 billion. Operating income declined $47.9 million to a loss of $66.3 million. Operating margin compressed 140 basis points on a 20 basis point increase in gross margin and a 160 basis point increase in SG&A rate. Gross margin increased primarily from lower freight, partially offset by higher shrink, markdowns related to the OTC recall and sales mix. SG&A expenses increased primarily from store labor investments, minimum wage increases, facility costs, costs related to the OTC recall, and depreciation.

Moving onto the balance sheet and free cash flow. As a reminder, my comments reflect balance sheet comparisons between Q3 2023 and Q3 2022. Inventory decreased by 2.5%. As we work through our shipments of seasonal imports, we expect a meaningful improvement in our inventory position by year-end. Third quarter capital expenditures were $541.4 million versus $391.2 million, reflecting elevated investments in new store openings, renovations, supply chain, and IT.

Free cash flow improved $142.1 million versus the third quarter last year. This improvement comes despite a challenging macro-environment and the accelerated investments to support our multi-year growth strategy. For the nine months of 2023, free cash flow improved $299.1 million versus the same period last year led largely by lower merchandise inventories with a partial offset from lower net income adjusted for non-cash items, increased capex, and the timing of accounts payable.

In the third quarter, we repurchased approximately 2.2 million shares for $252.3 million, including applicable excise tax. At quarter-end, we had $1.35 billion remaining under our share repurchase authorization. Cash and cash equivalents totaled $444.6 million compared to $439 million. You will recall, last quarter we announced our new commercial paper program as an additional source of liquidity to manage our working capital needs. At quarter-end, we had $230 million outstanding under this program.

During the third quarter, we also implemented a new supply chain finance program. Participation in this program is voluntary for our suppliers and provides them with additional flexibility to finance payments due from Dollar Tree. This process will be managed by a third-party financial institution. At quarter-end, our leverage as defined under our revolving credit agreement was 2.53 times.

Now let me provide some perspective into our sales and EPS expectations for the fourth quarter and its impact on our full-year outlook. Our outlook takes into consideration the following factors and expectations. Consistent with our prior expectations and the patterns we have seen throughout the year, we expect shrink trends will remain unfavorable in the 4th quarter. Family Dollar comps are expected to remain soft, reflecting the unfavorable macro-environment for low-income households, continued discretionary weakness, and elevated promotional activity in the market. On the plus side, we expect continued strength at the Dollar Tree banner as consumers embrace our compelling value proposition and multi-price strategy in addition to incremental freight savings.

With that background, we expect net sales for the fourth quarter will be in the range of $8.6 billion to $8.8 billion. Based on low-single-digit increase in comp-store sales for the enterprise, supported by a mid-single-digit increase at Dollar Tree and a minus 1% to plus 1% comp at Family Dollar. As a reminder, last year's Family Dollar comps accelerated meaningfully throughout the year, most notably in the back half as we began our price and labor investments and launch our transformation initiatives. Our Family Dollar comp results for Q3 and outlook for Q4 reflect these tougher comparisons.

We estimate fourth quarter diluted EPS will be in the range of $2.58 to $2.78. For the fiscal year, which includes a 53rd week. We expect sales in the range of $30.5 billion to $30.7 billion driven by a mid-single-digit increase in comp-store sales at the enterprise level, supported by a mid-single-digit comp at Dollar Tree and a low-single-digit comp at Family Dollar. With respect to EPS, we believe that higher sales at Dollar Tree, incremental savings in freight, and proactive expense controls will allow us to offset lower revenue expectations at Family Dollar. We are tightening our full-year GAAP EPS outlook to a range of $5.81 to $6.1 including the $0.12 legal reserve, we took in the first quarter. We still expect selling square footage to grow by 3% to 3.5% for the year, and new-store growth to be back-end weighted.

Other considerations in our 2023 outlook include the following. No incremental share repurchases. Depreciation and amortization should be in the range of $840 million to $845 million. Net interest expense should be approximately $30 million for the fourth quarter or approximately $110 million for the full year. We are assuming an effective tax rate of approximately 24% for the fourth quarter and approximately 23.5% for the full year. We expect 218.4 million diluted shares for the fourth quarter and 220 million diluted shares for the full year. We expect capital expenditures will total approximately $2 billion with approximately 40% allocated towards maintenance capex and the balance towards growth initiatives.

Finally, our Q4 and full-year outlook does not include any potential impact from the optimization review of the Family Dollar portfolio that Rick outlined in his remarks. We expect the review process will take several months and we will update you on our progress no later than our Q4 call, in March.

Now, I will turn the call-back over to Rick for closing remarks.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Thank you, Jeff. Similar to other retailers, you've heard from this earning season we are seeing more macro pressures than we did earlier in the year, particularly among our lower-income consumers. Nonetheless, I am encouraged by our market share momentum and I'm confident in our outlook for the balance of the year.

Across our enterprise, we are making good progress on our transformation initiatives. As I've said before, we benchmark our operating performance on growing traffic, units, and sales per square foot. All three of these metrics are heading in the right direction. With the steps we're taking to optimize our Family Dollar portfolio, we want to be better positioned to meet the financial and operating objectives of our organization and the expectations of our valued customers and associates. Relative to our competition, we want to operate from a position of strength at both banners. I look forward to updating you on our continued progress in the months ahead.

And since we're in the midst of the important holiday season, I also want to take this opportunity to thank our more than 200,000 associates for their dedication in support of our continued growth as an organization. Operator, with that Jeff and I are now ready to take questions.


Questions and Answers

Operator

Thank you. We will now be conducting a question-and-answer session [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, we please ask you to limit yourselves to one question. Our first question is coming from Michael Lasser from UBS. Your line is now live.

Michael Lasser
Analyst at UBS Group

Good morning. Thank you so much for taking my question. It's a two-part question. Number wine is given the economic environment that you're facing seems to be different than what you expected when you offered your long-term guidance earlier this summer. How does that influence your thinking about your ability to achieve $10 of earnings by 2026 if the economic environment that is current today remains the case for the next few years? And the second point is, and my second question is, there is a perception that you're going to earn call it around $6 this year, you get a dollar freight benefit next year and that would generate $7 of earnings. What would stand in the way of you not realizing that? Thank you.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

I'm going to let Jeff handle that.

Jeff Davis
Chief Financial Officer at Dollar Tree

Good morning, Michael, and I appreciate your question. The first part of your question regarding the longer-term outlook. The economic environment that we're in today, we believe that we're managing through. You see the Dollar Tree and Family Dollar, continuing to take market share. They're doing well across consumables. We believe that many of the actions that we're still sort of developing and will be put into action as we go through the fourth quarter into next year will help improve our top line, especially with a customer who is looking for additional value opportunities. This, we're early in the transformation. We believe that the actions we're taking, that we feel strongly will continue to move us forward to our longer-term outlook. There's a lot that's going to happen between now and 2026, and there really isn't a real crystal ball there but we remain resolute in our outlook.

As it relates to 2024, I think that the way you're thinking about this from a standpoint on a sort pro-forma no growth, no incremental basis. $7 of EPS when you take all the puts and takes between our forecast for this year. You remember you got to back out the 53rd week, which is about $0.30 and that. But we feel as if that's a good starting point as you think about our 2024 outlook, we remain very confident in our ability to pick up the additional dollar in freight and EPS. There may be some additional upside to that based upon what we're currently trending and the actions that we're taking and the returns that we believe we will get from the initiatives that we've started this year will continue to develop as we move forward. That's a good starting point for you.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

And Michael, let me add a little more thoughts on getting to 2026's number. We remain very bullish on that and I think as we look into 2024, what's important is the a number of initiatives that we've gotten done in just one year are really starting to gain traction, and let's don't lose sight of the fact, why, the fact that discretionary discretionary sales are softer than we all want our consumable sales are excellent and we are responding to the needs of the consumer. And when we have the items they want, they're going to come into the store and see the incremental items, the incremental price points on the Dollar Tree side, they're going to see the new shelf profile and they're going to see the fact that we're more relevant. And that's what gives me great confidence as we look into '24 and beyond.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question today is coming from Simeon Gutman from Morgan Stanley. Your line is now live.

Simeon Gutman
Analyst at Morgan Stanley

Hey, good morning, everyone. I'm wondering.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Good morning.

Simeon Gutman
Analyst at Morgan Stanley

Good morning. It's a little follow-up to the prior question. And then if I may be a slight second part. If we take, again, the $1 in freight, should we think about next year, again without talking about real guidance? The core business should grow, plus we get freight or you are not endorsing that the core business necessarily grows, we get freight for sure. And then just the second part of it is on Family Dollar, can you remind us if the crux of generating higher margins is sales productivity? Then what's going to be the step-change and when should that occur? Thanks.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

I'll take the first part.

Jeff Davis
Chief Financial Officer at Dollar Tree

You take -- you take the freight and I'll take the second.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Very good. I think the way, I was trying to respond to Michael's point from a standpoint of what's the starting point for FY '24 as he was kind of putting together the components. If you assume one thing, I think it seems, assuming a no-growth, no incremental investment year, you would be starting off with a point that would be roughly $6.80 to $7 of EPS assuming where we believe we'll end this year plus the additional dollar freight. And then once again the other puts and takes around the 53rd week, which comes off as well as some of those discrete items, we had this year as it relates to the West Memphis OTC and general liability. But we believe we will have the opportunity to grow our business from there, we're not giving guidance for 2024 as of yet, but I think that people are focused on the right component that gets you to a starting point and then what your assumptions are based upon how you think our initiatives will continue to take hold and grow from there.

Jeff Davis
Chief Financial Officer at Dollar Tree

And then in regards to Family Dollar, and when we should start to see the incremental margin? I think as I reflect on where we're at right now, you think about the incremental SKUs of which the bulk OTC and HBA, which all carry higher margin rates. Now, they tend to be a little more discretionary. You think about the fact that now private-label. We've already reached our 14%, which carries a massive incremental margin, all of that stuff is going to be in place as we roll into 2024, which again gives me a lot of comfort on how Family Dollar is going to perform next year. There's no doubt there's pressure on that consumer. But I've always said, the lower-income consumer has the ability to figure it out and we are offering a better value proposition in Family Dollar than it has ever at and I'm very-very comfortable with the way the box looks, the way it's presented and how the consumer is responding and I would add that when we entered quarter three, the first period of the quarter, our comps were very good in Family Dollar and we watch them road through the period through the quarter. So, again we entered it from a very strong position.

Operator

Thank you. Next question is coming from Paul Lejuez from Citi. Your line is now live.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Hi, Paul.

Paul Lejuez
Analyst at Citi Investment Research

Thanks, guys. Hi, there. Can you talk about your Family Dollar's comp assumption for Q just how you're thinking about how that breaks down from a traffic versus ticket perspective? And then within ticket, AUR versus CBT and I'm curious if you could make any comments about your inflation assumptions for 4Q and '24. Thanks.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Paul. I guess, the way the way we think about it. We really, the balance of the comp has really been between ticket and traffic. It's been pretty consistent. That's make-up it's a bit, it's been around 50-50. What we've seen here more recently is ticket has dropped off as that customer has been a little more challenged. We're continuing to see that going into the fourth quarter, thus our guidance of down one to plus one, we're not prepared to start getting into AUR and other further dissection of it, but as we think about traffic and ticket, it's going to. We're gonna have profit probably driving more of the comp, offset by some ticket pressure.

Jeff Davis
Chief Financial Officer at Dollar Tree

And Paul, I'd like to add to that that I -- we look we are intently focused on three key metrics transactions, traffic, weather, whatever you want to call it, unit growth, and sales per square footage -- square foot. And those are the things that we wanted to report on because I believe that drives comp sales and ultimately growth in the chain.

Operator

Thank you. Next question is coming from Edward Kelly from Wells Fargo. Your line is now live.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Good morning, Ed.

Edward Kelly
Analyst at Wells Fargo & Company

Hi guys, good morning. Rick, I wanted to ask you. I guess the two-part question around Dollar Tree, the core Dollar Tree business. You continue to roll out new price points. Maybe just an update on where you think the evolution of that is going over time and how we should think about the timing of the rollout of those price points? And then that concept generally, it does look like it's developing into a very formidable traditional Dollar Store competitor. I'm curious as to where you think you're gaining share from. Is there any impact in Family Dollar, given what is happening there and how is the evolution of concept impacting the way you think about growth, both number of units and where those units may make out?

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Great question. Let's start with the price points. We have Rick McNeely and his team have done an outstanding job of introducing new price points and you have to remember, Ed, we have to buy these things almost a year in advance in order to get them into the stores and we're starting to see them arrive. We've actually done a test on Halloween in a number of stores with multi-price guarantee and we're really-really excited with what happened with that. Now, it's really important that and I've said this frequently, I don't want anyone to think there's going to be a 100 different price points in that store. We're going to -- our core price point is still $1 dollar in the quarter. And what we're working on what is the right amount and right number of price points and what I can tell you is the consumer is speed is when we broke the $1.25 a year ago, I have to tell you that barrier was broken, and now the consumer is very receptive to what's going on. And when we add an incremental price point, Rick and his team, we're not adding a $1 a quarter item, that's a little bit bigger, a little different at $2, we're adding a different item that has even more value. So there's no SKU overlap, which makes us a little more harder to get executed. Now we've already done the work, what it's going to take to get the items into the store, get it marked, price properly, 40% of our SKUs are coming from overseas, and they're going to add the price point, right on the product. So a lot of great work has been done and I think that's some of what we're seeing as with the multi-price point, we've been able to make the brand more relevant to more people and I know it's hard, but the consumables side, and the way the team reacted to that, I think is also proof positive that we're attracting a different customer segment.

Now in regards to future store growth. We are weighing right now, what is the proper mix between Family Dollar and Dollar Tree's, obviously the Dollar Tree's become very profitable very fast and it appears that we broaden the demographic appeal of that brand. And I've said this a well-run Dollar Tree is a pretty powerful retail format and it's a format that a lot of people would shop in. And the fact that we're getting our arms around the price points, the fact that we're getting our arms around our store standards is putting us in a position where that brand might be, we might be able to go to different areas that we've historically stayed away from.

In regards to, is it affecting Family Dollar? I would look at you and say, those are two different customer segments. The first thing we did when we got together as a team is realized that the go-to-market strategies for both brands are totally different. One is the thrill of the treasure hunt in and out if you run out, I should have bought more versus Family Dollar which is traditional consumable retailing where there is an expectation of what has to be in that store and it's got to be there every time, I mean to get it.

Jeff Davis
Chief Financial Officer at Dollar Tree

And then I've just to add, in our prepared comments, we had mentioned the fact that a lot of the growth that's happening in Dollar Tree is actually coming from that higher income customer, while we're tracking 4.3 million new customers on a year-over-year basis. A lot of those customers are in the income demographic of $125,000 or greater and we're capturing that basket.

Operator

Thank you. Next question today is coming from John Heinbockel from Guggenheim. Your line is now live.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Good morning, John.

John Heinbockel
Analyst at Guggenheim Securities

Good morning. Two quick things. Maybe the first one is not as quick. On your FDA review, can you talk, philosophically, right now you're going to attack that because on the one hand, you want to dedicate more resources to the stores that have the most potential but you also don't want to cut back too far from a de-scaling deleveraged perspective? So maybe talk about that, the opportunity to convert a lot of those to Dollar Tree. Does that exist? And then my small follow-up is just, remind us when you think you'll get to eight cooler doors at $3 to $5 price point at Dollar Tree is that two years out, a year out, three years out, when is that?

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Well, let's go with the easy one. The dollar Tree cooler doors, we should have done within the next couple of years. Now the FDA review, we started off with all of our initiatives and the idea being that we get everything in place and see what stores responded and what don't. And what I do want on this exercise, John is not everyone to get ahead of me because I do think this is a very healthy thing to do and it's a timely thing to do. There will be some stores will relocate maybe some stores will close, maybe some stores will re-banner, but I do not have any of that information at this stage of the game. I've always prided myself on being transparent and all I'm trying to do is tell the world, we're taking a look at it and I do think it's prudent and I do think, I don't want to misconstrue that are not totally behind Family Dollar because I'm and I don't want anyone to think that, that doesn't mean we're not going to grow Family Dollar because I'm not saying that at all. It's simply a matter of reallocating assets to where we think we can be more productive.

Operator

Thank. Your next question is coming from Matthew Boss from JPMorgan. Your line is now live.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Good morning, Matt.

Matthew Boss
Analyst at J.P. Morgan

Good morning, Rick. So a couple of questions from my side. Maybe first, Rick on mid-single-digit comps at the Dollar Tree banner. What do you think is the best breakdown beyond this year to think about between traffic and ticket? At Family Dollar, Rick, what was the comp in October? Have you seen any change in November? And then Jeff, could you just elaborate on what you've seen change in the promotional landscape?

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Yeah, I mean let me let's start with the promotional landscape and I'll take that, Jeff, if that's okay, let you put the color around it. I think the promotional landscape. I have not seen anything irrational at this stage of the game. I would look at you and tell you that we are seeing discretionary items being promoted, which I think is more a reflex against people worried about the inventory they have on hand. I will tell you, Thanksgiving, being an old-time grocer, historically, you get the right price on Turkey, then you make your money on all the grocery items around it. We saw a lot of incredibly well-priced grocery items this year coming out of the big box in the grocery channel, which is a little contrary and there has been elevated activity on CSD basically 12 packs. But other than that there hasn't been a lot out there.

And then on the first question.

Matthew Boss
Analyst at J.P. Morgan

There is a question regarding the Family Dollar comps.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Yes, the Family Dollar comps during the course of the quarter they softened as we went through the quarter. We started off with a nice pace. October was the most challenged month of the quarter and I think you'll see that, that was across all retail. We were essentially flat in that particular month. And our guidance for Q4 is reflecting the fact that, that has continued to soften for us, and thus the guidance of down one to plus one for through the entire quarter.

Jeff Davis
Chief Financial Officer at Dollar Tree

And one thing I'd add to that, Matt. You know why we think we saw things softened in October, I am knocking on wood here, Thank God, we had our initiatives in place because why it's softened, it could have been a lot worse and I'm very pleased how we got ourselves to that quarter.

Operator

Thank you. Next question is coming from Kate McShane from Goldman Sachs. Your line is now live.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Good morning.

Kate McShane
Analyst at The Goldman Sachs Group

Good morning. Thanks for taking our question. We wanted to ask specifically about Dollar Tree. We know you noted that you saw a broader range of income shopping at Dollar Tree and contributed to your Q3 comp growth at the higher end. We wondered with regards to the lower end, just what you are seeing specific to the Dollar Tree banner.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

I would say, I mean, I can look at you and say Dollar Tree has always had a broad appeal. And I think what we're seeing, what we're really focused on is the fact that we're seeing a trade-down in the Dollar Tree. I would say, the customer base is essentially the same, there's been no erosion in the lower-income strata but the growth undoubtedly is coming from the higher income, 125,000 a year.

Jeff Davis
Chief Financial Officer at Dollar Tree

If you reflect back on this. Dollar Tree had a very strong consumable performance but also better than a 1% comp in discretionary and still showing growth on a -- it's a sizable growth on a year-over-year basis in discretionary. The lower-end customer, lower-income customer is probably seeing more of their dollar and consumables, which is good because it contingent capture units and share there. The higher-income customers are supporting us in discretionary as well as these consumable areas with respect to the multi price also. So it's a combination of both those customers is I think, giving us a strong performance across the Dollar Tree banner.

Kate McShane
Analyst at The Goldman Sachs Group

Perfect.

Operator

Thank you. Next question is coming from Krisztina Katai from Deutsche Bank. Your line is now live.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Good morning, Krisztina.

Krisztina Katai
Analyst at Deutsche Bank Aktiengesellschaft

Hi. Good morning, Rick and Jeff. So my question is on Family Dollar. I understand, there were some weakness with the low-end consumer, but how are you planning to address the softer-than-planned top-line at Family Dollar to get it back on track towards mid-single-digits as that is a big part of the profitability inflection? So how do you think about your current pricing position relative to your peers? And the second part of that, I know you're not guiding to next year, but philosophically, how best to think about the ability of the banner to drive positive units to offset any potential deflation next year in consumables. Thank you.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Yeah, in regards to the top line, in regards to our pricing position. So first thing. I would say our pricing on Family Dollar's is good as it's ever been and we measure our pricing on a full-book basis and what we call key value items and key value items are the most sensitive items out there and we do these checks every month and we do them across multiple -- multiple channels. So, big-box, as well as small box as well as drug, as well as grocery and we're very-very comfortable where we're at, we're right around right on the market 100% in both, which means we have price parity.

And I believe, while we've been in this for a year now, I do believe the consumer is starting to respond to that. And remember, we had very powerful consumable growth in quarter three in the Family Dollar brand, it's the consumable side where that consumer is feeling that pressure. And I think you asked me a little bit about deflation. I would look at you and say deflation will put us in a position where I think the consumer would be able to afford more discretionary items. So we'll take it as it comes. And of course, it should help us with our margin at the same time.

Jeff Davis
Chief Financial Officer at Dollar Tree

Just to add one final point. With respect to the work that Larry and his team is doing in private brands is something that really important for us. The ability to drive greater value for that customer give her other options. This is something that we're really just fully getting implemented here in the fourth quarter going into 2024. So we believe that as that customer is looking for greater value, get more options within our private brands, it's an opportunity to for us to improve our margins and to the extent that there is sort of price deflation, there's opportunity to actually provide them more value, as we think about how we sort that particular product line.

Operator

Thank you. Your next question today is coming from Chuck Grom from Gordon Haskett. Your line is now live.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Good morning, Chuck.

Chuck Grom
Analyst at Gordon Haskett Research

Good morning, Rick. Good morning, Jeff. On the Family Dollar store optimization. I'm just curious how wide a comp and profitability gap exists today across the fleet and then I guess the question more for Jeff on the gross margin line for the fourth quarter, how should we think about that between each banner FBO and the Tree and into 2024, what does the biggest puts and takes to think about it? Thank you.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Yeah, Chuck. The first question, I would rather not comment at this stage of the game as the process is underway and we have started it and I will disclose more of that as we get it when we get into the March call. But let's say this, obviously, it's an opportunity for us that we intend to address head-on.

Jeff Davis
Chief Financial Officer at Dollar Tree

And then Chuck, as I think your question is around Q4. And as we think about gross margins. You take it Dollar Tree, first, we would expect our margins to continue to expand and gross margins in the fourth quarter, largely driven by additional freight. The mix-shift is a stronger mix of discretionary as you would normally have more seasonally.

The other impact there is that, as we mentioned, we've taken approximately 90% of our inventories, we have the remaining 10%. While we don't expect that remaining 10% to have any different outcomes than we had in the past, the impact on the quarter is much less because we're only talking about a small portion of your inventories on a much larger portion of the overall performance. So our expectation is for further gross margin expansion for Dollar Tree and the -- in the fourth quarter. We also believe that that opportunity is there for Family Dollar also for many of the same reasons as it relates to freight, it is less of an impact of shrink on the quarter as well as some opportunities that we have within distribution. So we'd expect margin expansion, gross margin expansion in the fourth quarter also for Family Dollar.

Operator

Thank you. Your next question is coming from Scot Ciccarelli from Truist Securities. Your line is now live.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Hey, Scott.

Unidentified Participant
at Dollar Tree

Good morning, this is actually Josh on for Scott. On the shrink issue. I think it's been a big margin headwind this year, as we think about '24, where you guys think you are in terms of dealing with it. You've talked about some of the mitigation efforts there. But curious if you think we're still in the early innings, you think you are starting to make some substantial progress on dealing with the problem.

Jeff Davis
Chief Financial Officer at Dollar Tree

Yeah, I would say we're in the early innings, but I do feel we're making, we're making headway. The deal is that we take our physical inventory, once a year. So if you make these improvements, these adjustments, you still have to wait in order to see them, see the fruits of your labor. Now, I can tell you we've eliminated certain SKUs in certain stores. We've put items behind the check stand counter. We've moved certain items upfront. So they have a line of sight to the cashier. And the important thing it's we haven't affected our sales. And I might also say we put in, and I forgot to mention this in anti-sweep, OTC panel that's basically like sliding doors and you move it doesn't lock the counter up which you moved that little door over and you could only pull one item out at a time, which prevents a fee from coming in and cleaning out the whole shelf. So, we think we're going to make progress and I don't think we're gonna have to cycle through everything. So it's not like it's going to be an overnight change but I do believe we're moving in the right direction without having to log product out.

Operator

Thank you. Our final question today is coming from Peter Keith from Piper Sandler. Your line is now live.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Good morning, Peter.

Peter Keith
Analyst at Piper Sandler Companies

Hey, good morning. Thanks for squeezing me in. I just wanted to circle back on the deflation theme because that seems to be something that's percolating out for 2024. Rick, you mentioned your customers had a little bit more money, but is it possible that deflation could be negative for the banners thinking about maybe less still in trips and more competition?

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

So on the Dollar Tree side, all it will do is enhance the margin because you have basically the fixed-price point. So we end up getting the goods cheaper. So I can say that it could be a benefit. It might affect the topline a little, but it should be a benefit.

On the Family Dollar side, I would look and say, it might affect the top line. But again, I can make an argument that should enhance the gross margin line.

Jeff Davis
Chief Financial Officer at Dollar Tree

Also, gives the opportunity for that customer to take those dollars, and our customer today is limiting their purchases, maybe more in consumables, less in discretionary, the additional disposable income that they would have would allow them to pick up an additional discretionary that they didn't have before.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Yeah, and again I'd add it. If we do have inflation, it allows us to invest more in value of the product and actually give the consumer something a little bit additional.

Operator

Thank you. We reached end of our question-and-answer session, I'd like to turn the floor back over to management for any further or closing comments.

Rick Dreiling
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tree

Hey, thank you all very much for taking the time, and look forward to talking to you soon.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Alpha Street Logo

 


Featured Articles and Offers

Search Headlines:

More Earnings Resources from MarketBeat

Upcoming Earnings: