Bed Bath & Beyond targets students as sales struggle

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This struggling home goods retailer wants young people to buy its collections.

A lighthearted comedy starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd from 2013, “Admission,” captured some of the drama that comes with college admissions and rejections.

At a bizarre moment in the film, Fey, who plays Princeton admissions officer Portia Nathan, asks a high school student and also her son, “So, did you remember to bring your toothbrush?”

It’s a premise that retailers like Bed Bath and Beyond are trying to cash in on as “Decision Day” messages flood social media.

The day high school students will learn which colleges and universities have accepted them. And what follows is the chaos of moving to varsity, lock, stock and barrel.

Bowling Green State University President Rodney K. Rogers tweeted a welcome message for the new Class of 2026.

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Preferred college

“Bed Bath & Beyond has long been a favorite destination for the entire college, trusted to have all the essential products and services needed to outfit an off-campus dorm or apartment,” said the executive vice president and chief technology officer. Rafeh Masood customer base at Bed Bath & Beyond in a statement.

The homewares retailer is offering a 20% discount on every student purchase from May 1 through September 30.

“Whether it’s bedding or bath accessories, storage and organization solutions, kitchen essentials or home décor, Bed Bath & Beyond offers a range of products, all at accessible prices, to ensure that students are equipped to live on or off campus,” added Massoud.

The New Jersey retailer offers the bedding, bathroom, storage and small appliances needed during the four years of college.

Bed Bath & Beyond has also curated an online checklist to help students during this crucial transition phase.

The company will offer same-day delivery like rival Amazon to help parents and students in case they don’t have a car or rental on their doorstep.

Over the next few weeks, Bed Bath and Beyond’s “Pack and Hold” initiative will allow students to shop locally or online and pick up items when needed, from a store near campus.

Poor financial health

The company reported a 12% drop in same-store sales and posted a loss of $159 million for the quarter ended Feb. 26.

“Macroeconomic factors, such as global supply chain disruption, the Omicron variant, as well as geopolitical turmoil weighing on consumer confidence,” said Bed Bath & Beyond President and CEO Mark Tritton, in a statement.

“[That has] uncovered more vulnerabilities than we could have anticipated at this stage of our transformation, as we completely rebuild the foundations of our business.

The retailer has seen interest slow down over time.

Bed Bath and Beyond comparable store sales fell 15% and 9% from 2020 and 2019 respectively.

“The lack of inventory available for sale has proven to be an ongoing impediment to sales through the remainder of the fourth quarter and into fiscal 2022,” Tritton added.

Net sales fell 22% to $2 billion from $2.61 billion in the same period a year ago.

“Fourth-quarter sales were impacted by $175 million due to the continued lack of in-stock and available-for-sale merchandise across our Bed Bath banner,” Tritton said during the company’s earnings call.

The retail giant is reportedly looking to sell its Buybuy Baby business, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

“We’ve been talking on the streets and maybe some time around Buybuy Baby as an opportunity that doesn’t show its true value to a shareholder, and how do we unlock that?” Tritton said during the latest earnings call.

“And so the work began, and in January our Board of Directors agreed to create a Strategy Committee solely focused on how best to unlock the value of the Buybuy Baby asset, which is a growth-accelerating asset” , added Tritton.

Buybuy Baby recorded sales of approximately $1.4 billion in fiscal 2021.

Potential takers include “private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management and a special-purpose acquisition firm led by Philip Krim,” The Journal reported.

The company said it plans to open 20 to 25 new Buybuy Baby stores this year.

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Sallie R. Loera