Nearly all its stores have reopened following COVID-19 shutdowns, but TJX Companies (TJX 1.98%) is still struggling with the impact of the pandemic on its business.

The off-price retailer revealed on Wednesday that sales fell 31% over the months of May, June, and July, mainly thanks to widespread store closures for about one-third of that time. That result represented an improvement over the 50% slump in the prior quarter and surpassed management's expectations. "We were very pleased that both our top and bottom lines well exceeded our internal plans," CEO Ernie Herrman said in a press release.

Three young women sitting on a bench and looking through their shopping bags

Image source: Getty Images.

Yet the apparel and home goods specialist noted continuing challenges, including sluggish customer traffic and stressed inventory and supply chains. These issues have persisted into the fiscal third quarter, management said, and will likely keep sales declines in double-digit territory in Q3.

Beyond that, executives say they're confident that TJX Companies can resume its past record of steady market share growth. But visibility is especially low over the next few quarters, given major questions around COVID-19 outbreaks, the back-to-school shopping season, government stimulus legislation, and consumer shopping behavior. As a result, the retailer declined to issue detailed guidance for the third quarter or for the critical holiday shopping season ahead.