Dick's piles on sales gains, eyes more growth with new concepts

Dick's piles on sales gains, eyes more growth with new concepts

Retail dive


Dive Brief:

  • Dick's Sporting Goods hit a record in sales and earnings during the second quarter, with sales of $3.3 billion, up 20.7% from last year and 45% from 2019. That was driven by a comparable sales lift of 19.2%.

  • Those increases came even as the retailer's e-commerce sales growth from last year reversed somewhat. Digital sales declined 28% from last year as Dick's lapped a Q2 2020 that included pandemic-related store closures and an online sales increase of nearly 200%.

  • Dick's executives on Wednesday praised the retailer's underlying strength and highlighted growth initiatives, including strong early results in the new Dick's House of Sport experiential concept and VRST private menswear line. Dick's new outdoor-focused concept, Public Lands, is set to open its first store in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Dive Insight: Dick's has emerged as one of the reigning winners of the pandemic era, boosted both by investments in its digital and omnichannel operations, as well as a broad shift in the populace toward fitness and outdoor activities.

On a conference call and in a press release, Dick's Executive Chairman Ed Stack repeated previous management statements that 2021 was destined to be "the most transformational year in our history," and said that "so far, it certainly has been." That applies to both the company's performance so far this year and its investments in the future of the business. On the former, the retailer "delivered an outstanding quarterly performance" that "easily" beat analyst estimates, said Telsey Advisory Group analysts led by Joe Feldman in an emailed research note. "Dick's is gaining share through its curated assortment of national brands, differentiated private brands, and e-commerce, which is helped by its off-mall locations that provide convenient BOPIS and curbside pickup experiences," the analysts added.

Dick's CEO and President Lauren Hobart said the company's partnerships with national brands "have never been stronger." Meanwhile, she added, the retailer's portfolio of owned and exclusive brands is "highly profitable" and gaining traction, with a merchandise margin expansion in the double digits during Q2. Within Dick's vertical brands, management has been "quite pleased" with the early performance VRST, a men's athletics apparel brand exclusive to the retailer that launched earlier this year, Hobart also noted.

Executives acknowledged some of the pandemic-driven consumer trends that have helped lift Dick's, but they don't see the changes as fleeting fads. "[W]e've seen a fundamental shift in consumer behavior," said Dick's CFO Lee Belitsky. "The importance of health and fitness has accelerated, participation in outdoor activities has increased and there's been a far greater propensity for athletic apparel and athletic lifestyle product. These new habits and behaviors have largely continued into 2021."

As it tries to maintain and expand on market share gains it has made over the past year and a half, Dick's is looking toward its growth initiatives, which include a host of new store models and concepts. Among them is Dick's House of Sport, which Hobart said has had an "amazing" performance in the early going, with two locations in the early going.

The concept stores, which feature multi-sport experiences like a rock-climbing wall and a turf field, are also testing grounds. Hobart pointed to a high-touch service model and merchandising strategy, which frequently combines softline and hardline goods in the same space to offer "holistic solutions" for athletes as features that could be rolled out to Dick's broader store footprint. Another "growth vehicle," as executives have described it, is Public Lands, which opens its first store Thursday. The stores are centered around the active outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, fishing and kayaking. Hobart said that "we see a real opportunity to reinvent the outdoor marketplace." All told, Dick's plans to open six new mainline stores and eight specialty concept stores in 2021, including two Public Lands stores fashioned from its Field & Stream banner, a hunting and firearms-focused brand that Dick's is in the process of exiting.

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