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Inflation Boosts July Sales for BJ's, Costco

NEW YORK — Club retailers BJ's Wholesale Club and Costco Wholesale Corp. on Thursday said gains in fresh food sales buoyed by price inflation bolstered positive comparable sales during July.

Natick, Mass.-based BJ's said July comparable-store sales increased by 5.4% excluding gasoline, sparked by a 7% comparable increase in food sales and a general merchandise increase of 3% boosted in part by air conditioner sales.

Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco said its U.S. comps, excluding gasoline, were up by 3% for the four weeks ending July 31, although sales were negatively affected by around 3% due to one less selling day in the recent period vs. last year.

Costco said fresh food comped in the "high-single digits" for the period, with inflation in the "mid-single digits" across the entire fresh category. Costco's total sales for the four weeks increased 10% to $5.9 billion.

BJ’s, which recently agreed to a buyout by private equity firm Leonard Green & Associates, also on Wednesday said sales for the 13-week second quarter, which ended July 30, increased by 10.5% to $2.98 billion, with comps excluding gas up by 3.8%. BJ’s is expected to report further financial details for the quarter later this month.