Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Summary of significant accounting policies

Summary of significant accounting policies
12 Months Ended
Jan. 29, 2022
Summary of significant accounting policies  
Summary of significant accounting policies

2.   Summary of significant accounting policies

Fiscal year

The Company’s fiscal year is the 52 or 53 weeks ending on the Saturday closest to January 31. The Company’s fiscal years ended January 29, 2022 (fiscal 2021), January 30, 2021 (fiscal 2020), and February 1, 2020 (fiscal 2019) were 52-week years.


The Company’s consolidated financial statements include the accounts of the Company and its wholly owned subsidiaries. All significant intercompany accounts, transactions, and unrealized profit were eliminated in consolidation.

Use of estimates

The preparation of consolidated financial statements in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities at the date of the consolidated financial statements and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the accounting period. Actual results could differ from those estimates. The Company considers its accounting policies relating to inventory valuations, vendor allowances, impairment of long-lived tangible and right-of-use assets, loyalty program and income taxes to be the most significant accounting policies that involve management estimates and judgments. Significant changes, if any, in those estimates and assumptions resulting from continuing changes in the economic environment, including those related to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be reflected in the consolidated financial statements in future periods.


Certain prior year amounts have been reclassified to conform to the current year presentation.

Cash and cash equivalents

Cash equivalents include highly liquid investments such as money market funds and certificates of deposit with an original maturity of three months or less from the date of purchase. Cash equivalents also include amounts due from third-party financial institutions for credit card and debit card transactions. These receivables typically settle in five days or less with little or no default risk.

January 29,

January 30,

(In thousands)









Short-term investments



Receivables from third-party financial institutions for credit card and debit card transactions



Cash and cash equivalents





Fair value of financial instruments

The carrying value of cash and cash equivalents, accounts receivable, and accounts payable approximates fair value due to the short maturities of these instruments. There was no outstanding debt as of January 29, 2022 and January 30, 2021.


Receivables primarily include amounts due from vendors for allowances, amounts related to the employee retention credit (ERC), and amounts due from third-party gift card providers. The Company does not require collateral on its receivables and does not accrue interest. Credit risk with respect to receivables is limited due to the diversity of vendors comprising the Company’s vendor base. The Company performs ongoing credit evaluations of its vendors and evaluates the collectability of its receivables based on the length of time the receivable is past due and historical experience.

January 29,

January 30,

(In thousands)




Vendor allowances





Employee retention credit (1)



Gift card






Allowance for doubtful accounts



Receivables, net





(1) During the fiscal years ended January 29, 2022 and January 30, 2021, the Company qualified for various relief measures resulting from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, including the ERC which allowed for a refundable tax credit against certain employment taxes on qualified wages. During the fiscal years ended January 29, 2022 and January 30, 2021, there was $4,021 and $52,405, respectively, related to the ERC recognized as a reduction of the associated costs within selling, general and administrative expenses on the consolidated statements of income.

Vendor allowances

The Company receives consideration from vendors for advertising, markdown allowances, purchase volume discounts and rebates, reimbursement for defective merchandise, and certain selling and display expenses. Substantially all vendor allowances are recorded as a reduction of the vendor’s product cost and recognized in cost of sales as the product is sold.

Merchandise inventories

Merchandise inventories are stated at the lower of cost or net realizable value. Cost is determined using the moving average cost method and includes costs incurred to purchase and distribute goods. Inventory cost also includes vendor allowances related to co-op advertising, markdowns, and volume discounts. The Company maintains an inventory reserve for lower of cost or net realizable value and shrink. The inventory reserve was $26,882 and $52,860 as of January 29, 2022 and January 30, 2021, respectively.

Property and equipment and internal use software

Property and equipment is stated at cost, net of accumulated depreciation, and depreciated using the straight-line method over the shorter of the assets’ estimated useful lives or lease term. Leasehold improvements purchased after the beginning of the initial lease term are amortized over the shorter of the assets’ useful lives or a term that includes the original lease term, plus any renewals that are reasonably certain at the date the leasehold improvements are acquired. Repair and maintenance costs are expensed as incurred.

Equipment and fixtures

1 to 10 years

Electronic equipment and software

3 to 5 years

Costs incurred to obtain or develop internal use software that are capitalized are amortized on a straight-line basis over the estimated useful life of the software. Cloud computing arrangements (software-as-a-service contracts) and related implementation costs that are capitalized are amortized on a straight-line basis over the contract term (1 month to 5 years). These amounts are classified within prepaid expenses and other current assets and other long-term assets in the consolidated balance sheets.

Impairment of long-lived tangible and right-of-use assets

The asset group is defined as the lowest level for which identifiable cash flows are available and largely independent of the cash flows of other groups of assets. The asset group identified is at the store level and includes both property and equipment and operating lease assets.

Significant estimates are used in determining future cash flows of each store over its remaining lease term including our expectations of future projected cash flows including revenues and operating expenses. An impairment loss is recorded if the carrying amount of the long-lived asset exceeds its fair value.

Long-lived tangible and right-of-use assets are evaluated for indicators of impairment quarterly or when events or changes in circumstances indicate that their carrying amounts may not be recoverable. An undiscounted cash flow analysis is performed over the asset group. Asset groups are written down only to the extent that their carrying value exceeds their respective fair value. Fair values of the asset group are determined by discounting the cash flows at a rate that approximates the cost of capital of a market participant. Management’s forecast of future cash flows is based on the income approach. The fair value of individual right-of-use assets is determined under the market approach using estimated market rent assessments based on broker quotes.

The determination of fair value under the income approach requires assumptions including forecasts of future cash flows (such as revenue growth rates and operating expenses) and selection of a market-based discount rate. Estimates of market rent are based on non-binding broker quotes. As these inputs are unobservable, they are classified as Level 3 inputs under the fair value hierarchy (see Note 13, “Fair value measurements”). If actual results are not consistent with estimates and assumptions used in estimating future cash flows and asset fair values, there may be exposure to additional impairment losses in a future period (see Note 4, “Impairment, restructuring and other costs”).


Goodwill represents the excess of cost over the fair value of net assets acquired. The recoverability of goodwill is reviewed annually during the fourth quarter or more frequently if an event occurs or circumstances change that would indicate that impairment may exist (see Note 6, “Goodwill”).

Other intangible assets

Other definite-lived intangible assets are amortized over their useful lives. The recoverability of intangible assets is reviewed whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate the carrying amount of such assets may not be recoverable (see Note 7, “Other intangible assets”).


The Company determines whether an arrangement is or contains a lease at contract inception. The lease classification evaluation begins at the lease commencement date. The lease term used in the evaluation includes the non-cancellable period for which the Company has the right to use the underlying asset, together with renewal option periods when the exercise of the renewal option is reasonably certain.

Total rent payable is recorded during the lease term, including rent escalations in which the amount of future rent is fixed on the straight-line basis over the term of the lease (including the rent holiday period beginning upon control of the premises and any fixed payments stated in the lease). For leases with an initial term greater than 12 months, a related lease liability is recorded on the balance sheet at the present value of future payments discounted at the estimated fully collateralized incremental borrowing rate (discount rate) corresponding with the lease term. In addition, a right-of-use asset is recorded as the initial amount of the lease liability, plus any lease payments made to the lessor before or at the lease commencement date and any initial direct costs incurred, less any tenant improvement allowance incentives received. Tenant incentives are amortized through the right-of-use asset as reduction of rent expense over the lease term. The difference between the minimum rents paid and the straight-line rent is reflected within the right-of-use asset.

Certain leases contain provisions that require variable payments based upon sales volume or payment of common area maintenance costs, real estate taxes, and insurance related to leases (variable lease cost)Variable lease costs are expensed as incurred. This results in some variability in lease expense as a percentage of revenues over the term of the lease in stores where variable lease costs are paid. Contingent rent is accrued each period as the liabilities are incurred, in addition to the straight-line rent expense. This results in some variability in lease expense as a percentage of revenues over the term of the lease in stores where contingent rent is paid.

Leases with an initial term of 12 months or less (short-term leases) are not recorded on the balance sheet. Short-term lease expense is recognized on a straight-line basis over the lease term.

The Company subleases certain real estate to third parties for stores with excess square footage space.

The Company does not separate lease and non-lease components (e.g., common area maintenance).

As the interest rate implicit in the lease is not readily determinable, the Company uses its incremental borrowing rate corresponding with the lease term. As there are no outstanding borrowings under the Company’s credit facility, this rate is estimated based on prevailing market conditions, comparable company and credit analysis, and judgment. The incremental borrowing rate is reassessed if there is a change to the lease term or if a modification occurs and it is not accounted for as a separate contract (see Note 8, “Leases”).

Loyalty program

The Company maintains a loyalty program, Ultamate Rewards, which allows members to earn points based on purchases of merchandise or services. Points earned are valid for at least one year. The loyalty program represents a material right to the customer and points may be redeemed on future products and services. Revenue from the loyalty program is recognized when the members redeem points or points expire. The Company defers revenue related to points earned that have not yet been redeemed. The amount of deferred revenue includes estimates for the standalone selling price of points earned by members and the percentage of points expected to be redeemed. The expected redemption percentage is based on historical redemption patterns and considers current information or trends. When a guest redeems points or the points expire, the Company recognizes revenue in net sales on the consolidated statements of income.

Credit cards

The Company has agreements (the Agreements) with third parties to provide guests with private label credit cards and/or co-branded credit cards (collectively, the Credit Cards). The private label credit card can be used at any store location and online, and the co-branded credit card can be used anywhere the co-branded card is accepted. A third-party financing company is the sole owner of the accounts and underwrites the credit issued under the Credit Card programs. The Company’s performance obligation is to maintain the Ultamate Rewards loyalty program as only guests enrolled in the loyalty program can apply for the Credit Cards. Loyalty members earn points through purchases at Ulta Beauty and anywhere the co-branded credit card is accepted, including Ulta Beauty at Target.

The third parties reimburse the Company for certain credit card program costs such as advertising and loyalty points, which help promote the credit card program. The Company recognizes revenue when collectability is reasonably assured, under the assumption the amounts are not constrained and it is probable that a significant revenue reversal will not occur in future periods, which is generally the time at which the actual usage of the Credit Cards or specified transaction occurs.

The Company accounts for the amounts associated with the Agreements as a single contract with the sole commercial objective to maintain the Credit Card programs. As a result, all amounts associated with the Agreements are recognized within net sales on the consolidated statements of income.

Gift card program

The Company records a contract liability for gift card sales which will be redeemed in the future within deferred revenue on the consolidated balance sheets and recognized in net sales when the gift card is redeemed for product or services. Gift cards do not expire and do not include service fees that decrease guest balances. The Company maintains historical data related to gift card transactions sold and redeemed over a significant time frame. Gift card breakage (amounts not expected to be redeemed) is recognized to the extent there is no requirement for remitting balances to governmental agencies under unclaimed property laws. Estimated gift card breakage revenue is recognized over time in proportion to actual gift card redemptions. Gift card breakage revenue was $15,266, $11,717, and $12,448 in fiscal 2021, 2020, and 2019, respectively.

Revenue recognition

Revenue is recognized when control of the promised goods or services is transferred to the guest, in an amount that reflects the consideration the Company expects to be entitled to in exchange for those goods or services.

The Company determines revenue recognition through the following steps:

Identification of the contract, or contracts, with a guest;
Identification of the performance obligations in the contract;
Determination of the transaction price;
Allocation of the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract; and
Recognition of revenue when, or as, a performance obligation is satisfied.

Net sales include retail stores and e-commerce merchandise sales as well as salon services and other revenue.

Revenue from merchandise sales at retail stores is recognized at the point of sale, net of estimated returns. Revenue from e-commerce merchandise sales is recognized upon shipment to the guest or guest pickup of the merchandise based on meeting the transfer of control criteria, net of estimated returns. Salon services revenue is recognized at the time the service is provided to the guest. Shipping and handling are treated as costs to fulfill the contract and not a separate performance obligation. Accordingly, the Company recognizes revenue for its single performance obligation related to e-commerce sales at the time control of the merchandise passes to the customer, which is at the time of shipment or guest pickup. The Company provides refunds for merchandise returns within 60 days from the original purchase date. State sales taxes are presented on a net basis as the Company considers itself a pass-through conduit for collecting and remitting state sales tax. Company coupons and other incentives are recorded as a reduction of net sales. 


Advertising costs primarily consist of print, digital and social media, and television and radio advertising. Costs related to advertising are expensed in the period the related promotional event occurs.

Fiscal year ended

January 29,

January 30,

February 1,

(In thousands)






Advertising expense







Advertising expense as a percentage of net sales




Prepaid advertising costs included in prepaid expenses and other current assets on the consolidated balance sheets were $7,612 and $7,112 as of January 29, 2022 and January 30, 2021, respectively.

Pre-opening expenses

Non-capital expenditures incurred prior to the grand opening of a new, remodeled, or relocated store are expensed as incurred.

Cost of sales

Cost of sales includes the cost of merchandise sold, including substantially all vendor allowances, which are treated as a reduction of merchandise costs; distribution costs including labor and related benefits, freight, rent, depreciation and amortization, real estate taxes, utilities, and insurance; shipping and handling costs; retail stores occupancy costs including rent, depreciation and amortization, real estate taxes, utilities, repairs and maintenance, insurance, and licenses; salon services payroll and benefits; and shrink and inventory valuation reserves.

Selling, general and administrative expenses

Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses includes payroll, bonus, and benefit costs for retail and corporate employees; advertising and marketing costs; occupancy costs related to our corporate office facilities; stock-based compensation expense; depreciation and amortization for all assets, except those related to our retail store and distribution operations, which are included in cost of sales; and legal, finance, information systems, and other corporate overhead costs.

Income taxes

Deferred income taxes reflect the net tax effect of temporary differences between the financial statement carrying amounts of assets and liabilities and their tax bases. The amounts reported were derived using the enacted tax rates in effect for the year the differences are expected to reverse.

Income tax benefits related to uncertain tax positions are recognized only when it is more likely than not that the tax position will be sustained on examination by the taxing authorities. The determination is based on the technical merits of the position and presumes that each uncertain tax position will be examined by the relevant taxing authority that has full knowledge of all relevant information. Penalties and interest related to unrecognized tax positions are recorded in income tax expense in the consolidated statements of income (see Note 11, “Income taxes”).

Stock-based compensation

Stock-based compensation expense is measured at grant date, based on the fair value of the award, and is recognized on a straight-line basis over the requisite service period for awards expected to vest. Stock-based compensation expense was $47,259, $27,583, and $25,642 in fiscal 2021, 2020, and 2019, respectively (see Note 15, “Stock-based compensation”).

Insurance expense

The Company has insurance programs with third party insurers for employee health, workers compensation, and general liability, among others, to limit the Company’s liability exposure. The insurance programs are premium based and include retentions, deductibles, and stop loss coverage. Current stop loss coverage per claim is $400 for employee health claims, $100 for general liability claims, and $250 for workers compensation claims. The Company makes collateral and premium payments during the plan year and accrues expenses in the event additional premium is due from the Company based on actual claim results. UB Insurance, Inc., an Arizona-based wholly owned captive insurance subsidiary of the Company, charges the operating subsidiaries of the Company premiums to insure certain liability exposures. Pursuant to Arizona insurance regulations, UB Insurance, Inc. maintains certain levels of cash and cash equivalents related to its liability exposures.

Net income per common share

Basic net income per common share is computed by dividing income available to common stockholders by the weighted-average number of shares of common stock outstanding during the period. Diluted net income per common share includes dilutive common stock equivalents, using the treasury stock method (see Note 16, “Net income per common share”).

Recently adopted accounting pronouncements

Taxes – Income Taxes (Topic 740): Simplifying the Accounting for Income Taxes.

In December 2019, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2019-12, Income Taxes – Simplifying the Accounting for Income Taxes. The guidance removes certain exceptions for recognizing deferred taxes for equity method investments, performing intraperiod allocation, and calculating income taxes in interim periods. The ASU also adds guidance to reduce complexity in certain areas, including recognizing deferred taxes for goodwill and allocating taxes to members of a consolidated group, among others. This guidance is effective for interim and annual reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2020. Early adoption of the standard is permitted, including adoption in interim or annual periods for which financial statements have not yet been issued. The transition requirements are dependent upon each amendment within this update and will be applied either prospectively or retrospectively. The Company adopted the new guidance as of January 31, 2021, and its adoption had no impact on the Company’s consolidated financial position, results of operations, or cash flows.