What is 'Comps'

Comps is short for comparables. It can refer to a retail company's same-store sales compared to the previous year and is used by analysts to make apples to apples comparisons from year to year. Specifically, comps compare a company's revenue growth based on the sales created by the stores that are open for at least one year.


Also known as comparable same-store sales, comps is a metric used by analysts and investors to determine what portion of sales growth is attributed to old stores compared to new stores. Some large retail chains release comps on a monthly basis.

New Stores vs. Old Stores Sales

Stores that have been open for less than a year are referred to as new stores. New stores have high growth rates. As a result, the growth rate of all stores is higher than the growth rate of comp stores as long as the company is adding new stores. Including new stores in the growth rate calculation can give the analyst artificially high growth rate results. Comps are used as a way to ensure that when analysts compare growth rates, the growth rates do not include new stores.

Analysts typically like to hear that a company's comps are rising each period. This is a good indication the company's consumers are willing to pay more for goods compared to the previous period and/or to come to the store more often and spend more or less the same amount. The key is the company is seeing an increase in revenue without resorting to opening new stores.

Comps Calculation

Company sales growth is calculated by subtracting sales from the previous year from sales from the current year and then dividing the difference by the previous year. For example, if company A sold $2 million last year and $4 million this year, the calculation to determine growth is $4 million minus $2 million divided by $2 million, or 100%. Smart investors dig a little deeper and ask how much of the growth is due to new stores compared to old stores. The investor finds out that $3 million of the company's sales is from new stores and only $1 million of sales is from stores that were open in the previous year. To calculate comp sales, the analyst does not include sales from new stores. The new calculation is $1 million minus $2 million divided by $2 million, or negative 50%.

When comp store sales are up, it means the company is growing sales at its current stores. When total sales growth is up and comp stores are down, it means the company is relying on the opening of new stores to maintain growth. This is not a good sign.

  1. Base Year

    A base year is the first of a series of years in an economic ...
  2. Click And Mortar

    Click and mortar is a type of business model that includes both ...
  3. Doorbuster

    A doorbuster is a marketing and sales strategy retailers use ...
  4. Retail Sales

    Retail sales are an aggregated measure of the sales of retail ...
  5. Compensating Balance

    A compensating balance is a minimum balance that must be maintained ...
  6. Larry Montgomery

    A former CEO and chairman of Kohl's department stores. Montgomery ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    99 Cents Only Stores Profits Edge Up

    Dollar retailer 99 Cents Only increased revenue and profits despite product-cost increases.
  2. Insights

    19 Retailers Are Shedding Stores So Far in 2017

    As consumers increasingly spend money on restaurants and travel, mall-based retailers feel the pinch.
  3. Investing

    Will Home Improvement Sales Improve?

    An analyst says a read through of large suppliers is favorable. Still questions should be asked of their respective same store sale.
  4. Investing

    Do Store Openings Equal Stock Appreciation? (SBUX)

    Does retailers and restaurant chains aggressively opening new locations lead to stock appreciation?
  5. Trading

    Are Dollar Stores Really A Bargain?

    It's hard to resist an item that's $1. We tell you when you should fight the urge.
  6. Investing

    Can Samsung Compete With Apple's Retail Stores?

    This strategic move may just shoot Samsung to an uncatchable spot in the consumer technology sector.
  7. Investing

    Target Going "All In" On Small Stores (TGT)

    Target CEO announces his intention to open hundreds of small, urban Target locations
  8. Investing

    Should Investors Squeeze Into The Gap?

    The Gap is closing stores and conducting layoffs. Will investor panic lead to opportunity?
  9. Investing

    Why 'Menu' is a 4-Letter Word at McDonald's

    McDonald's has taken care of its shareholders through the years, but the brand has suffered recently. What is likely to happen going forward?
  1. Who are Whole Foods' main competitors?

    Whole Foods' main competitors are Sprouts Farmers Markets and Trader Joe's. However, the recent acquisition by Amazon may ... Read Answer >>
  2. What is the difference between revenue and income?

    Revenue is the total amount of income generated by the sale of goods or services related to the company's primary operations.  ... Read Answer >>
  3. What do hard and soft goods in the retail sector refer to?

    Understand the difference between hardlines and softlines offered by various retailers. Find out about the characteristics ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Return on Assets - ROA

    Return on assets (ROA) is an indicator of how profitable a company is relative to its total assets.
  2. Fibonacci Retracement

    A term used in technical analysis that refers to areas of support (price stops going lower) or resistance (price stops going ...
  3. Ethereum

    Ethereum is a decentralized software platform that enables SmartContracts and Distributed Applications (ĐApps) to be built ...
  4. Cryptocurrency

    A digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography for security. A cryptocurrency is difficult to counterfeit because of ...
  5. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority - FINRA

    A regulatory body created after the merger of the National Association of Securities Dealers and the New York Stock Exchange's ...
  6. Initial Public Offering - IPO

    The first sale of stock by a private company to the public. IPOs are often issued by companies seeking the capital to expand ...
Trading Center