Big Lots Has Big Troubles


Big Lots, the discounter consumers rely on for everything from end tables to super-cheap ramen, is facing existential troubles. In a recent filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, it says it expects to close up to 40 of its 1,400 stores. And given the pressure of loans, Big Lots has “substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

While the company has been actively working to cut costs and increase sales, its most recent financial results included a 10% loss, with sales slipping to $1 billion, down from $1.12 billion in the comparable period of 2023. Net loss for the period came in at $205 million, a slight improvement from the $206 million lost in the comparable period.

"While we made substantial progress on improving our business operations in Q1, we missed our sales goals due largely to a continued pullback in consumer spending by our core customers, particularly in high ticket discretionary items,” said Bruce Thorn, president and chief executive officer, in the earnings announcement. “As we move forward, we're taking aggressive actions to drive positive comp sales growth in the latter part of the year and into 2025.”



Those aggressive actions include a deep push to expand assortment and offer “extreme” bargains. The Columbus, Ohio-based company says it is on track to achieve its goal of 75% bargain penetration, with 50% falling into that extreme category.

“This enabled us to improve consumer perceptions about our brand and the value we offer and to deliver a year-over-year improvement in gross margin and operating expenses despite significant sales pressure,” Thorn added 

In the SEC filing, the company said that while it will “vigorously pursue plans to enhance its liquidity and improve the performance of the business,” there is “a significant likelihood that it will be unable to comply” with specific SEC liquidity regulations and it “can provide no assurance” that its lenders would help bail it out.

While the discount category is popular with consumers, especially given inflationary pressures, it’s also crowded. In addition to Walmart, Target and Costco, Big Lots competes with Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Five Below.

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