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Costco said U.S. comparable-club sales climbed by 17% year over year in October.

Costco extends double-digit sales growth in October

Deli, bakery departments drive increased food sales

Costco Wholesale built on sequential and year-over-year sales growth with more double-digit gains in October.

For the four weeks ended Oct. 31, net sales advanced 19.2% to $16.47 billion from $13.82 billion a year earlier, Costco reported yesterday after the market close. That compared with upticks of 15.8% for September and 15.9% in October 2020.

Comparable-club sales for the October selling period climbed 17.5% overall and were up 15.3% excluding the impact of changes in fuel prices and foreign exchange (FX) rates. By business unit, comp sales rose 17% in the United States (11.7% excluding fuel and FX), 20.6% in Canada (10% excluding fuel and FX) and 17% internationally (14.7% excluding fuel and FX). 

E-commerce sales again grew by double digits in October, rising 16.5% year over year (15.3% excluding FX). That compared with September’s gain of 10.6% (9.6% excluding FX) and October 2020 growth of 91.1% (91% excluding FX), when consumer demand was elevated due to the impact of COVID-19.

In the nine-week year-to-date period, the warehouse club retailer posted net sales of $35.97 billion, up 17.3% from $30.66 billion a year ago. Comp sales gained 15.6%  (10.4% excluding fuel and FX) overall, including 15.6% in the U.S. (10.7% excluding fuel and FX). E-commerce sales rose 13.2% over the nine weeks and were up 12.1% excluding FX.

“Our comp traffic, or frequency, for October was up 8.4% worldwide and 7.9% in the U.S.,” David Sherwood, assistant vice president of finance and investor relations at Costco, said in a phone report late Wednesday. “Worldwide, the average transaction for October was up 8.4%, which included the positive impacts from gasoline insulation and FX.”

Sherwood noted the jump in fuel prices, up more than a dollar per gallon from October 2020. “Gasoline price inflation positively impacted total reported comp sales by approximately 4.6%,” he said. “The average selling price was 50% higher year over year at $3.52 per gallon this year, compared to $2.35 last year.”

U.S. regions and markets seeing the strongest sales results for Costco in October were the Southeast, Texas and Los Angeles, Sherwood reported. Internationally, the United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico and Taiwan turned in the top performances.

“Moving to merchandise highlights,” he said, “food and sundries were positive high single digits. Candy, frozen and deli were the strongest departments. Fresh foods were up high single digits. Better-performing departments included service deli and bakery. Nonfoods were positive mid-teens. Better-performing departments included home furnishings, jewelry, domestics and garden. Ancillary business sales were up high 40s. Gas and food court were the top performers.”

Costco finished the October sales period with 820 warehouse clubs overall, compared with 800 a year earlier. By market, the retailer operates 568 clubs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, 105 in Canada, 39 in Mexico, 30 in Japan, 29 in the United Kingdom, 16 in Korea, 14 in Taiwan, 13 in Australia, three in Spain and one each in Iceland, France and China. Costco also has e-commerce sites in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Mexico, Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Australia.

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