Costco keeps up same-store sales momentum in April

Costco keeps up same-store sales momentum in April

Food and fresh departments among categories seeing gains

Getting a lift from an extra shopping day, Costco Wholesale Corp. posted double-digit revenue and same-store sales gains for April.

Costco said late Wednesday that sales for the four weeks ended May 6 totaled $10.81 billion, up 13.1% from $9.56 billion a year ago.

The Easter calendar shift during the four-week retail month gave customers another day to shop compared with a year ago, which boosted total sales by 1% and comparable-store sales by 1.5% to 2%, according to Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco.

April comp-store sales climbed 10.9% overall and 7.3% excluding the impact of fuel price changes and foreign exchange. E-commerce sales for the month surged 43.1% and, backing out the effects of gasoline prices and foreign exchange, grew 41.5%.

Gas price inflation and foreign exchange had positive impacts of 200 and 150 basis points, respectively, on total comp-store sales, the company said.

The robust performance in April continued Costco’s strong comp-store results this year, building on gains of 8.6% in March, 10.5% in February and 6% in January.

In the United States, same-store sales rose 10.2% for April and were up 7.9% excluding the impact of fuel prices and foreign exchange. Regions seeing the strongest results were the Southeast, Northwest and Bay Area, David Sherwood, assistant vice president of financial planning and investor relations at Costco, told analysts in a conference call.

April same-store sales increased by 14% (6% excluding fuel and foreign exchange) in Canada and by 11.2% (6.3% excluding fuel and foreign exchange) in Costco’s other international markets.

Among merchandise categories, food and sundries generated mid-single-digit comp-store sales gains (excluding foreign exchange), with the tobacco, sundries and cooler segments showing the strongest performance, Sherwood said. Fresh food sales rose by low- to mid-single digits, led by the service deli and produce departments.

Hardlines and softlines gained by high single digits, with strong results from the office, tires, majors (appliances, TVs, computers and tablets) and apparel segments, he said.

The holiday calendar shift also spurred store traffic in April, Sherwood told analysts. For the month, traffic rose 5% worldwide and 4.9% in the U.S. on a comp-store basis. Results were similar for the combined March and April period, with traffic edging up 4.6% worldwide and 4.7% in the U.S.

Sherwood said the average transaction in April grew 5.6%, including the impact of foreign exchange and fuel price inflation.

Currently, Costco has 749 warehouse clubs overall. That includes 519 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 98 in Canada, 38 in Mexico, 28 in the United Kingdom, 26 in Japan, 14 in Korea, 13 in Taiwan, nine in Australia, two in Spain, one in Iceland and one in France. The retailer also operates e-commerce websites in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Mexico, Korea and Taiwan. 

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