Food, Economy Driving Sales Gains for BJ’s

The economic slowdown is continuing to provide a lift to BJ’s Wholesale Club, which on Thursday reported robust sales figures in August and predicted more of the same.

NEW YORK — The economic slowdown is continuing to provide a lift to BJ’s Wholesale Club, which on Thursday reported robust sales figures in August and predicted more of the same. “We think we’re doing a lot of things right,” Herb Zarkin, chief executive officer of the Natick, Mass.-based retailer, said in remarks at the Goldman Sachs Global Retailing Conference here yesterday. “We’ve improved club operations. Our merchandising has never been better, with a significantly improved produce department, and we’ve been consistent in managing our gasoline business.” Zarkin’s remarks came after BJ’s reported that comparable-store sales for the four weeks ending Aug. 30 improved by 15.4%, or 7.7% excluding gasoline. The increase was driven by good sales, which improved by 11%, and by a 5% increase in store traffic. Zarkin said he felt food inflation, along with gasoline fluctuations, would continue for the balance of the year. “We think the customer will be shopping with a tight eye on discretionary-type items,” Zarkin said. “But because our business is primarily food and consumable goods, we’re in a good place to drive business even in a tough economic environment.”

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