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BJ's Cites Hurricane in Aug. Sales Growth

WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — BJ's Wholesale Club here said Thursday that customers stocking up in preparation for Hurricane Irene contributed 2.5% to 3% to the company's comparable-store sales gains for August.

Total sales for the month were up 14.9%, to $901.6 million, compared to August of 2010, and comp-store gains increased 7.9%, excluding gas. Traffic at the retailer, whose stores are concentrated along the East Coast where the hurricane struck, was up about 5%, and transaction size rose about 3%, the company said.

Sales of food increased by approximately 10%, driven primarily by fresh product.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. also reported a slight boost from hurricane stock-ups at its East Coast stores, adding about 0.5% to total August comps. Overall comps for the month through Aug. 27 rose 4.1%, primarily driven by larger basket sizes, with a smaller increase in number of transactions.

Grocery comp-store sales increased in the "mid to upper teens" during August, the company said, "while health care, beauty, and household essentials increased in the mid-single digit range."

Costco Wholesale Corp., Issaquah, Wash., said comps for the four-week August period were up 9%, with food and sundries up in the "high single digits."

Sales for the month (through Aug. 28, when the company's fiscal year also ended) totaled $6.9 billion, up 17% over a year ago. This year's four-week period included sales from the company's Mexico joint venture; otherwise the net sales increase would have been 14%.

Fourth-quarter sales were $27.6 billion, an increase of 17% (14% excluding Mexico); and full-year sales totaled $87 billion, an increase of 14% (11% excluding Mexico).

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