Off-price retailer Big Lots (NYSE:BIG) is expecting even bigger gains in the second quarter than previously estimated, announcing sales were far outpacing even the elevated outlook it had provided just a few weeks ago.

The closeout chain said sales have been so good it now anticipates comparable-store sales to be up by mid- to high-20s percentage rates, more than double the level management guided to when it reported first-quarter results at the end of May.

Pallets being unloaded from a tractor trailer by a forklift

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Living large

Big Lots' value proposition continues to resonate with consumers unemployed and staying home. First-quarter revenue jumped 11% on a 10% increase in comps and a 45% surge in e-commerce sales. Earnings jumped 37% to $1.26 per share.

The retailer had said at the time the second quarter was off to a strong start, and if comps came in at the same level as they did in the first, it would expect earnings to come in between $0.65 and $0.80 per share, well ahead of the $0.53 per share it notched last year.

Now Big Lots says that, even excluding the $11-per-share gain it anticipates receiving from the sale and leaseback of its four distribution centers, it believes adjusted earnings will receive a massive lift and come in between $2.50 to $2.75 per share.

The discount retailer also says its liquidity position is very strong, with cash and short-term investments of $890 million and no borrowings against its $700 million credit facility.

President and CEO Bruce Thorn said in a statement, "our strong performance over the past few months gives us growing confidence that we are well positioned to navigate through the upcoming quarters and beyond."

Big Lots stock was soaring 30% higher in midday trading on Friday.

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