While year-over-year Q1 2021 results were strong across the board, much of the increases were largely due to comparisons being made to sales during the initial onset of the pandemic. However, some retailers’ results went above and beyond the standard recovery: lululemon athletica beat out sales expectations with higher than expected growth; Lands’ End saw significant growth as a result of listing on third-party sites; and Macy’s turnaround efforts showed signs of yielding new customer growth.
Positive results in general are no surprise for lululemon, but the retailer surpassed expectations with 88% revenue growth compared to Q1 2020. Net revenue reached $1.2 billion, compared to $782 million in Q1 2019 — showing that the retailer has not just recovered from the pandemic but resumed an upward trajectory.
The retailer attributed the results to strong growth across multiple KPIs and geographies, including ecommerce growing 55% to $545.1 million; international revenue growing 125%; and operating margin increasing 1,080 basis points to 15.8%.
“We are very pleased with our Q1 results, which reflect significant growth in the business compared to both 2020 and 2019,” said Meghan Frank, CFO at lululemon in a statement. “Our momentum remains strong as we enter the second quarter, and we are raising our estimates for the year accordingly. The strength of our financial position allows us to continue to deliver against the Power of Three growth strategies, while we leverage both near- and long-term opportunities.”
Lands’ End was another retailer that generated performance increases compared to both 2020 and 2019. Overall sales rose $321.3 million, up 48.1% from Q1 2020 and 22.4% compared to Q1 2019. However, these moderate increases were overshadowed by 44.4% year-over-year ecommerce growth, driven by a 71% increase in new ecommerce customers — even when compared to the heavily digital-focused Q1 2020.
The retailer attributed the positive results largely to a massive increase in third-party revenue: sales through marketplaces and third-party retailers reached $11.8 million in Q1 2021, compared to $1.5 million in Q1 2020. Kohl’s, where Lands’ End is now available both online and at 150 stores, was credited as the largest contributor.
Macy’s Q1 2021 comparable sales were unimpressive (up 62.5% compared to 2020 and down 10.5% compared to 2019), but the department store chain seems to be gaining ground in other areas. The retailer saw 4.6 million new customers, a 23% increase compared to first quarter 2019, with 47% coming through its digital channel.
Macy’s loyalty programs played a significant part: the average customer spend for those in the Platinum, Gold and Silver Star Rewards Loyalty program was up 10% compared to first quarter 2019. The Bronze segment, Macy’s youngest and most diverse loyalty tier, added 1.7 million more members.
“As consumers seek to re-engage with each other, we are seeing promising signs that our core customers are shopping again, and we continue to attract new customers, who increasingly begin their shopping experience with us online,” said Jeff Gennette, CEO and Chairman of Macy’s in a statement. “Customers are shopping categories that have been strong throughout the pandemic, including home, fine jewelry and watches, fragrance and luxury items. And we’re encouraged by the improvement we’re seeing in special occasion categories, as customers begin to travel and return to a pre-pandemic lifestyle.”