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Williams-Sonoma CEO refocuses on in-store traffic after a surge in online sales last year


Williams-Sonoma shares jumped to new highs Thursday after the home goods retailer posted better-than-expected results for its fourth quarter.

The company’s e-commerce business played a key role in growing sales to make up for lost business in physical stores. But CEO Laura Alber is anticipating a strong recovery in brick-and-mortar sales as the U.S. economy emerges from the pandemic.

“The store traffic’s coming back,” she said on CNBC’s “Mad Money.” “I think people don’t realize the upside we have in retail.”

Williams-Sonoma, known for selling products for the kitchen, generated $2.3 billion in revenues in its most recent quarter that ended Jan. 31. It was the third-straight quarter of year-over-year growth, following a dip in sales early last year when sweeping Covid-19 lockdowns took effect.

The San Francisco-based retailer also reported full-year results from its 2021 fiscal year. Despite pandemic-era business disruptions, the company had its best year of growth in almost two decades.

Online sales grew 45% during the fiscal year, compared to a 24% drop in in-person sales. Still, Alber said the company won’t give up on its brick-and-mortar strategy.

“We talk about e-commerce, and that will be our growth, but this retail recovery is a big part of the story as well,” she said.

Shares of Williams-Sonoma popped 18.46% on Thursday, closing at $161.57.

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