WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — BJ’s Wholesale Club here Wednesday reported quarterly sales that were higher than expected as consumers worried about rising gas prices made more trips and bought more food at BJ’s during the 13-week first quarter ended April 30.
Sales of perishable foods were particularly high, and revenue from increased membership fees also contributed to what Laura Sen, BJ’s chief executive officer, called a “great start” to its 2012 fiscal year. Overall sales increased 10% to $2.8 billion, with comp sales excluding gasoline improving by 2.4%. Net earnings of $33.7 million improved 29% and exceeded the company’s own estimates of $29.5 million to $31.5 million. Sales were expected to rise by 7.5%.
“Our stronger than expected performance for the first three months of 2011 reflects net sales above plan, continued margin expansion and excellent cost control,” Sen said.
Excluding the effect of gasoline sales, traffic increased by 2% and average transaction size increased by 1% as compared to the same period a year ago. Comparable-club sales of food increased by 4% and perishable food sales improved by 8%.
Officials in a conference call Wednesday did not address BJ’s ongoing review of strategic alternatives including a potential sale.