The company’s large pipeline of new stores comes as retailers are betting on shoppers to continue to return to stores, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Big Lots plans to open roughly 50 stores in 2022, and then add another 80 stores annually for the next few years. The discount retailer currently operates 1,431 stores in 47 states.
The announcement of the new stores also came as Big Lots revealed its end-of-year financial results. The company met the upper end of its expectations for the final quarter of 2021 and achieved a two-year comparable sales increase of 9%.
However, Big Lots also noted traffic softened at the end of 2021, likely as a result of adverse weather conditions around the country and the rise of the omicron COVID-19 variant. Big Lots predicts its fiscal January will reflect a flat to low-single-digit percentage two-year comparable sales increase––below prior expectations. The company also faced the same struggles as other retailers, including supply chain challenges, labor shortages and inflation.
The new stores are part of Big Lots’ Operation North Star strategy launched in 2019 that aims to increase sales and store expansions.
"We are highly confident that Operation North Star has put us on track to create tremendous long-term value for shareholders, and that we now have the visibility to provide a long-term financial outlook,” Bruce Thorn, president and CEO of Big Lots, said in a statement. “We see a clear and long runway for growth ahead of us, coupled with the opportunity to drive returns through margin expansion and judicious capital allocation.”