Publix Supermarkets increased sales in the first quarter but its growth moderated compared to the early pandemic-fueled surges of last year.
Publix’s sales rose 3.9% to $11.7 billion for the quarter ended March 27, up from $11.2 billion in the year-ago period. Comparable store sales increased 2.4%, compared with a 14.4% gain in the fiscal 2020 quarter.
Publix estimated that COVID-19 impacted its sales by $900 million, or 7.8% in the first quarter and by $1 billion, or 10.3%, in the first quarter of last year. Excluding the pandemic’s impact in both periods, sales would have climbed 5.5% to $10.8 billion from $10.2 billion, the company said. Excluding the impact of the pandemic in 2021 and 2020, sales would have risen 5.5% to $10.8 billion for the first quarter, compared to $10.2 billion in 2020.
Net earnings surged 124% to $1.5 billion, compared to $667.3 million in 2020. Earnings per share increased to $2.16 per share, up from $0.94 per share in 2020. On an adjusted basis, net earnings for the quarter would have fallen 4.9% to $909.8 million, compared to $956.2 million last year. Earnings per share would have been $1.32 per share, compared to $1.35 per share in 2020.
Effective May 1, 2021, Publix’s stock price increased from $60.20 per share to $61.30 per share. (Publix is an employee-owned company and its stock is not publicly traded, but is made available for sale only to current Publix associates and members of its board of directors.)
“While our country is taking steps to return to normal, our associates continue to provide the premier service that brings comfort to our customers,” said Publix CEO Todd Jones. “I want to thank our associates for their extraordinary efforts since the beginning of the pandemic.”
Publix operates 1,269 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.