Ulta Beauty (NASDAQ:ULTA) on Thursday afternoon announced first-quarter results that showed a major impact from COVID-19 store closures. Sales fell by more than one-third, and earnings fell to an $80 million loss from a $192 million gain a year earlier.
The spa and beauty products retailer closed all of its stores on March 19 as part of social distancing efforts aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Those closures ran through the rest of the quarter, which ended on May 2, and pushed customer traffic down 38% in the quarter.
Online orders and limited curbside pickup offerings improved that result slightly, but Ulta still saw overall revenue fall 33% to $1.17 billion. "The rapid escalation of COVID-19," CEO Mary Dillon said in a press release, "resulted in significant disruption to our operations ."
Management noted a few bright spots, including strong e-commerce sales, ample cash on hand thanks to new debt, and an encouraging sales boost as some locations reopened in recent days. Yet Ulta is still operating in cash preservation mode, having suspended stock buybacks and reduced capital investment plans for the rest of 2020. Investors might not get much clarity about its rebound pace, meanwhile, until the company's next quarterly update sometime in late August.