- Publix reported an almost 20% increase in same-store sales during the second financial quarter ended June 27, according to a press release. Net sales were $11.4 billion, a 21.8% increase over the same period last year. Estimated sales for Q2 rose $1.5 billion, or 16.1% due to the coronavirus.
- The grocer's net earnings surged 106% to $1.4 billion compared to the same quarter last year. Earnings per share increased to $1.94, up from 92 cents during the year-ago period.
- In the first half of its fiscal year, Publix saw double-digit sales growth, with net sales increasing 18.9% to $22.6 billion and same-store sales rising 17.1% compared to the year-ago period. Its estimated sales for the six-month period increased about $2.5 billion, or 13.1%.
Publix’s second-quarter sales growth showed the company's strength in markets throughout the Southeast and provided further evidence that conventional grocers are getting a major boost from the pandemic.
The grocer cited its status as an essential retailer as pivotal to the sales increases. As restaurants and other retailers closed down, stores remained open to customers and also filled online orders. Florida, where Publix operates most of its stores, ordered restaurants to close down in late March but then allowed them to reopen weeks later before ordering them closed once again. The state saw a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in May and June, and to date has recorded nearly 500,000 positive cases.
Publix's second quarter began in April, when many shoppers turned to online shopping. Publix utilizes Instacart for pickup and delivery, and the service quickly onboarded new gig workers in March and April to fill a wave of orders from shoppers who didn't want to step inside stores.
To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Publix in July mandated all customers wear face coverings while shopping in stores. Employees have had to wear coverings since April and have access to other protective equipment. The retailer also installed plexiglass safeguards at the registers and in-store signage to remind customers to social distance.
Even with these efforts, Publix has had employees at numerous stores test positive for COVID-19. The company offers two-weeks paid time off for those infected as well as those who need to quarantine, and performs a deep cleaning on each impacted store.
After pausing new store openings early during the pandemic, Publix has resumed soft openings. Its website lists nine new stores since early June.
Research shows that shoppers are making fewer trips to grocery stores and spending more when they do — a sales trend that has benefited retailers like Albertsons, Publix, Kroger and Walmart that cater to one-stop shopping. Publix should continue to see elevated sales in the third and even the fourth financial quarters, and it could see further impacts from the approaching hurricane season. Tropical Storm Isaias, which made landfall in the Carolinas early Tuesday, could impact Publix's store hours, according to the company.