Business was good for essential retailers that stayed open during maximum COVID-19 social distancing efforts. But growth wasn't guaranteed. On Thursday, Dollar Tree (NASDAQ:DLTR) announced mixed results that demonstrated that challenge.

Sales jumped 15.5% in its Family Dollar business, but fell 1% across Dollar Tree locations. Those trends left overall comparable-store sales gains at 7%, or well below the 22% spike that Dollar General reported for the same period.

A woman checks her phone while shopping.

Image source: Getty Images.

The difference was Dollar Tree's focus on non-staple categories like candy and decorations, especially around the key Easter holiday. Consumers abandoned regular spending patterns on those niches during April and late March. 

"The seasonal and discretionary business was materially impacted by lower Easter holiday sales," CEO Mike Witynski said in a press release. The biggest drags on the business were party supplies, candy, and Easter-related items, management said.

Family Dollar joined Dollar General in withdrawing its 2020 outlook due to unprecedented volatility around daily demand changes and the uncertain timing of the economic growth rebound. The chain did note continued positive momentum in the second quarter, though, with consumers returning to the Family Dollar locations in recent weeks to shop for crafts and merchandise related to graduation and Mother's Day celebrations.

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