Costco comps up 6% at U.S. clubs

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — The nation’s leading warehouse club operator maintained its momentum in November by posting a 6% increase in same-store sales at U.S. clubs excluding the beneficial effect of higher year-over-year gas prices.

If the favorable effect of fuel prices, which averaged $3.44 this year compared with $2.85 last year, are included then the U.S. comp figure rose 9%. International comps also rose 9%, but were negatively affected during the month by a somewhat stronger U.S. dollar. International comps excluding the impact of currency fluctuations increased 11%.

Total company sales for the four-week period ended Nov. 27 increased 11% to $7.51 billion from $6.78 billion last year. Sales for the 13-week period, which closely aligns with the company’s first quarter period ended Nov. 20, increased 12% to $23.13 billion compared with $20.59 billion. First-quarter financial results are scheduled for release next week on Thursday, Dec. 8.

As for Costco’s November performance, the company noted that Texas, California and the Midwest were its strongest performing regions and also highlighted an interesting development in the consumer electronics category. The Costco investor relations representative who share details of the company’s November performance said that sales of electronics increased in the high single-digit range and was driven by higher price point, larger screen LED televisions as opposed to the prior year when LCD and plasma models dominated. The net result is that dollar sales of televisions were higher and unit volumes were down in contrast to prior years when the opposite was true as deflation resulted in unit volume growth outpacing dollar volume.

Other categories highlighted include food and sundries and softlines where the company said it experienced a high single-digit comps increase.

Costco ended the period with a total of 596 clubs globally, including 433 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 82 in Canada, 32 in Mexico, 22 in the United Kingdom, nine in Japan, eight in Taiwan, seven in Korea and three in Australia. Before year end, Costco said it will open two additional units in Japan.