Same-store sales up 1.9 percent at Tractor Supply

Farm and fleet retailer Tractor Supply saw third-quarter earnings of $17.5 million, down 3.3 percent from $18.1 million last year. Sales were up 12.5 percent to $629.2 million from $559.2 million in the previous year.

Same-store sales increased 1.9 percent at the retailer. The company said it saw an increase in expenses that it attributed to payroll increases and occupancy from new stores. Tractor Supply opened 21 new stores in the quarter and closed none, a higher count than the 18 stores the company opened -- and one store it closed -- in the third quarter last year.

Jim Wright, president and CEO of Tractor Supply, highlighted growth categories in the third quarter -- notably the company’s core “lifestyle” categories, such as animal health products and pet supplies. Still, the company was “disappointed” with sales performance in its seasonal merchandise category, he said.

"Despite challenges presented by drought conditions and consumer pressures impacting discretionary purchases, we achieved positive comparable-sales growth as well as slight gross margin improvement," Wright noted.

Tractor Supply also lowered its guidance for the full fiscal year, blaming a “delayed onset of colder weather” and “continued external pressures on the consumer.”

“We believe it is more appropriate to temper our outlook for our performance through the remainder of the year,” Wright said.

Additionally, Tractor Supply announced it has named Gregory Sandfort chief merchandising officer.

Sandfort formerly served as president and chief operating officer at Michaels Stores. Prior to that, he served as chief merchandising officer at Michaels and held merchandising management spots at Sears and Federated Department Stores.

Based in Brentwood, Tenn., Tractor Supply is one of the country’s largest retail farm and ranch store chains.