What happened

BJ's Wholesale Club (BJ 1.48%) is tumbling 9% in morning trading Thursday after reporting earnings that beat estimates but failing to offer guidance for the next quarter or year because the future remains too uncertain.

So what

Many retailers are reporting stronger earnings as consumers come back to stores. Online grocery sales, for example, were $8.4 billion in April, up 16% from last year, but still down from the $9.3 billion notched in March.

Woman leaning on shopping cart

Image source: Getty Images.

Physical retail gained traction again this quarter, or as Target CEO Brian Cornell said, it's been "an enthusiastic return to in-store shopping."

It's been less so at BJ's, however. Net sales were up 1.7% to $3.78 billion, but comparable sales excluding the impact of gasoline sales declined 5% year over year. Online sales surged 381% from the year-ago period, but BJ's still suffered across-the-board declines in profits.

Now what

BJ's was still able to beat Wall Street's forecasts, but the warehouse club is still unable to see the way forward all that clearly because of the pandemic, so it declined to give any guidance.

That's markedly different from the case of many retailers, who are forecasting higher sales and profits, if not for the whole year, then for the next quarter at least. Because BJ's Wholesale Club still can't tell how things are going, the market seems to be selling off its stock in favor of companies with a clearer idea of where business is heading.