NEWS WATCH

Costco cos., Issaquah, Wash., said last week sales rose 11% to $23.8 billion for the year ended Aug. 30, while comparable sales were up 8%. The company also denied reports that it has been contacted by the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding accounting practices in its recognition of membership income. "While it is the company's policy not to comment on rumors, this rumor is false," the company

Costco cos., Issaquah, Wash., said last week sales rose 11% to $23.8 billion for the year ended Aug. 30, while comparable sales were up 8%. The company also denied reports that it has been contacted by the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding accounting practices in its recognition of membership income. "While it is the company's policy not to comment on rumors, this rumor is false," the company said last week. "Costco has not been contacted by the SEC on any accounting matter during the past several years. The company has been consistent in its recognition of membership fees since its inception in 1976."

of its customer base by Shop n Bag retailers as opposed to the national chains the stores compete with, a Fleming spokesman said.

Wal-mart, Bentonville, Ark., has apparently struck gold with its first discount store within the city limits of Los Angeles. Located in a mall in Panorama City, Calif., the 165,000-square-foot store -- the chain's only two-level outlet -- recorded opening-day sales of $328,097, including nearly 31% of sales from softlines, and welcomed 43,709 customers during the first week, for an average of 9,500 shoppers a day, the company said. Prior to opening the store, Wal-Mart helped the community by joining with the Los Angeles Police Department to raise more than $13,000 for anti-gang programs.