Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
9 Months Ended
Oct. 31, 2020
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic  
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

3.Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. In response to federal, state, and local government restrictions and recommendations and for the health and safety of our associates and guests, the Company temporarily closed all stores effective March 19, 2020. Effective April 19, 2020, the Company temporarily furloughed many store and salon associates and introduced curbside pickup, and on May 11, 2020, the Company started a phased store reopening process. By July 20, 2020, the full fleet of Ulta Beauty stores was operational. By October 31, 2020, salon and brow services had resumed in almost all stores. Reflecting operational limitations related to COVID-19 and the partial resumption of services, the Company has reactivated more than half of the furloughed associates.

Results of operations for the 13 and 39 weeks ended October 31, 2020 were significantly impacted by the effects of COVID-19, and the pandemic is expected to continue to have a negative impact on the Company’s business, financial condition, profitability, cash flows, and supply chain, although the full extent is uncertain. As COVID-19 continues to evolve and resurgences occur, the extent of the impact on the Company’s business, financial condition, profitability, cash flows, and supply chain will depend on future developments, including, but not limited to, the potential temporary reclosing of certain stores, the potential temporary restrictions on certain store operating hours and/or in-store capacity, the duration of potential future quarantines, shelter-in-place and other travel restrictions within the U.S. and other affected countries, the severity of the virus, the duration and spread of the virus, the duration, timing and severity of the impact on consumer spending, how quickly and to what extent normal economic and operating conditions can resume, and the public’s response to resurgences of the virus and its eventual aftermath, all of which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted.

The multi-year, strategic investments the Company has made to enhance omnichannel and supply chain capabilities, combined with the ongoing commitment of the Company’s distribution associates, have enabled the Company to support increased e-commerce demand and guest engagement.

The Company has taken the following steps to preserve financial liquidity through these unprecedented circumstances:

the drawdown of $800,000 on March 18, 2020 under the Company’s revolving credit facility, which was repaid in full on September 2, 2020;
limited new hires and delayed merit increases for all corporate, store, and salon associates;
reduced marketing, travel and controllable expenses;
aligned inventory receipts with current sales trends;
prioritized payment obligations;
reduced new store openings, relocations and remodel projects; and
suspended the Company’s stock repurchase program, which may be resumed in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020.

The Company evaluates long-lived assets for indicators of impairment quarterly or when events or changes in circumstances indicate that their carrying amounts may not be recoverable. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Company experienced lower than projected revenues and identified indicators of impairment for certain stores, which resulted in the recording of certain long-lived asset impairment and restructuring charges. See Note 5, “Impairment, restructuring and other costs,” for additional details.


On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted. The CARES Act, among other things, includes provisions relating to refundable payroll taxes, deferment of employer side social security payments, net operating loss carryback periods, alternative minimum tax credit refunds, modifications to the net interest deduction limitations and technical corrections to tax depreciation methods for qualified improvement property.  The most significant relief measures which the Company qualifies for are the employee retention credit, payroll tax deferral, and technical corrections to tax depreciation.

The Company recognizes government grants for which there is a reasonable assurance of compliance with grant conditions and receipt of credits. The Company believes there is a reasonable assurance that it will comply with the relevant conditions of the employee retention credit provision of the CARES Act and that it will receive the credit. The Company will continue to assess the treatment of the CARES Act to the extent additional guidance and regulations are issued, the further applicability of the CARES Act to the Company, and the potential impacts on the business.

Employee retention credit (ERC) and payroll tax deferral. The ERC allows for a refundable tax credit against certain employment taxes equal to 50% of the first ten thousand dollars in qualified wages paid to each employee commencing on March 13, 2020 and through January 1, 2021. To be eligible, the Company must (i) have had operations fully or partially suspended because of a shut-down order from a governmental authority related to COVID-19, or (ii) have had gross receipts decline by more than 50% in a calendar quarter when compared to the same quarter in 2019. Qualified wages are limited to wages paid to employees who were not providing services due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the 13 and 39 weeks ended October 31, 2020, the Company recognized $2,402 and $50,583, respectively, related to the ERC as a reduction of the associated costs within selling, general and administrative expenses on the consolidated statements of operations and within accounts receivable, net on the consolidated balance sheets. 

Additionally, the CARES Act contains provisions for deferral of the employer portion of social security taxes incurred through the end of calendar 2020. As of October 31, 2020, the Company has deferred $34,060 in social security tax payments, of which 50% are required to be remitted by December 2021 and the remaining 50% by December 2022. The deferred amounts are recorded as a liability within accrued liabilities on the Company’s consolidated balance sheets.

Technical corrections to tax depreciation. The CARES Act also includes a technical correction of tax depreciation methods for qualified improvement property, which changes 39-year property to 15-year property eligible for 100% tax bonus depreciation. This provision of the CARES Act resulted in a cash tax refund of $4,600 relating to property and equipment, from filing an amended federal income tax return, as of October 31, 2020. Furthermore, the Company expects the changes to qualified impairment property depreciation to result in reductions to estimated income tax payments for fiscal 2020.