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TJX Flexes Its Brick-and-Mortar Muscles

It's back to business as usual at TJX Cos. Inc.

And by that I mean the company is once again serving a slice of humble pie to the long list of retailers that are bemoaning declining store traffic and slowing sales.

TJX, the parent of off-price powerhouses T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods, reported on Tuesday that comparable-store sales in the latest quarter were up 3 percent over the same period a year earlier. It also raised its earnings guidance for the full year.

That likely came as a relief to investors, who got skittish last quarter when the company recorded only a 1 percent increase on this measure after a long streak of more robust growth. And it again positions TJX as a standout in a bleak retail landscape in which the likes of Macy's Inc., Kohl's Corp., and JC Penney Co. Inc. are in a desperate fight to remain relevant.

It is a testament to TJX's leadership that the company has been thriving in such a challenging moment. But investors should not let the company's success get in the way of asking some hard questions about its strategy to keep the momentum going.

TJX already has a huge fleet of stores, and it is betting that there's appetite for more...


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