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Costco's November comparable-club sales advanced 14.1% overall and were up by 13.4% in the U.S.

Costco gives Q1 preview in robust November sales report

High fuel prices help lift comparable-club sales by over 14% for month

Costco Wholesale topped prior-year sales gains in November and reported robust preliminary net sales growth for the fiscal 2022 first quarter.

In the four weeks ended Nov. 28, net sales climbed 15.7% to $18.13 billion from $15.67 billion a year earlier, when sales rose 15.1%, Costco reported yesterday after the market close.

November comparable-club sales advanced 14.1% overall and were up 9.2% excluding the impact of changes in fuel prices and foreign exchange (FX) rates, exceeding year-ago comp-sales growth of 13.4% (14.6% excluding fuel and FX). By business unit, last month’s comp sales increased 14.3% in the United States (9.1% excluding fuel and FX), 15.7% in Canada (7.6% excluding fuel and FX) and 11% internationally (11.3% excluding fuel and FX). 

Costco’s November e-commerce sales grew 12.2% on a comparable basis and were up 11.7% excluding FX.

The November results continued double-digit sales growth from October, when Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco posted gains of 19.2% in net sales and 17.5% in comp sales, the latter including 17% growth in the U.S.

“Traffic, or frequency, for November was up 5.5% worldwide and 3.3% 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 November was up 8.1%, which included the positive impacts from gasoline inflation and FX.”

Costco Costco_Wholesale-gas_station.jpg

Fuel price inflation hoisted overall comp sales by 4.6% in November as gasoline's average selling price per gallon surged 57% from a year ago, Costco said.

A jump in fuel prices gave November comp sales a sizable lift, according to Sherwood. “Gasoline price inflation positively impacted total reported comp sales by approximately 4.6%,” he said. “The average selling price was 57% higher year over year at $3.62 per gallon this year compared to $2.30 per gallon last year.”

U.S. regions and markets posting the strongest sales results in November were Texas, the Southeast and the Midwest, with Mexico, Japan and Taiwan turning in the top performances internationally, according to Sherwood.

“While we continue to see inflation year over year, particularly within fresh foods and food and sundries, there was some moderation in inflation during November relative to October,” he said. “Foods and sundries were positive mid-single digits. Deli, frozen and candy were the strongest departments. Fresh foods were up mid- to high single digits. Better-performing departments included bakery and service deli. Nonfoods were positive low double digits; better-performing departments included jewelry, tires, domestics and apparel. Ancillary business sales were up mid-50s. Gas, food court and pharmacy were the top performers.”

Costco also previewed 2022 first-quarter sales including and excluding the Thanksgiving week. For the 12 weeks ended Nov. 21, net sales totaled $49.42 billion, up 16.7% from $42.35 billion in the fiscal 2021 first quarter, when the warehouse club chain reported a 16.9% uptick. In the 13 weeks ended Nov. 28, which included most of the Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend (excluding Cyber Monday), net sales surged 16.8% to $54.10 billion versus 16% growth to $46.33 billion in the prior-year period.

Full fiscal 2022 first-quarter sales and earnings are scheduled to be reported on Dec. 9.

Costco closed out the November sales period with 824 warehouse clubs overall, compared with 803 a year earlier. By market, the retailer operates 571 clubs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, 105 in Canada, 40 in Mexico, 30 in Japan, 29 in the United Kingdom, 16 in Korea, 14 in Taiwan, 13 in Australia, three in Spain and one apiece in Iceland, France and China. Costco also runs e-commerce sites in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Mexico, Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Australia.

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