Costco keeps comping, is Sam’s next?

Sam’s Club and Costco may not be identical twins, but there is enough similarity between the two to assume the traffic and inflation trends that propelled Costco to an 8% January same-store sales increase favorably impacted Sam’s as well.

The 8% figure Costco reported for January was at U.S. clubs only and excludes the favorable impact of higher year-over-year gas prices. For the 22-week period ended Jan.29 – two weeks shy of Costco’s second-quarter end date of Feb. 12 – comps were 6% at U.S. clubs, excluding fuel. Sam’s Club, which by now everyone should be aware no longer reports monthly results, has said it expects it fourth-quarter same-store sales to increase between 4% and 6% following a third quarter of 5.7% reported last November, which marked the seventh consecutive quarter of accelerating same-store sales. Sam’s figure for the fourth quarter will be released on Feb. 21 when Walmart’s reports results.

In the meantime, sales at Costco in January increased 11% to $7 billion at that 8% comps increase the company reported was powered by a 5% increase in traffic and a solid dose of mid-single-digit inflation in food categories. The company said the food and sundries and fresh foods categories comped in the high-single digits while electronics was negative in the mid-single digits. In addition to the increased customer traffic, the company said average transaction size increased slightly. Sales for the 22-week period increased 11% to $40.2 billion from $36.08 billion the same period the prior year. 

Costco ended the month with a total of 598 warehouses worldwide, which is slightly less than the number Sam’s operates in the U.S. Costco’s U.S. and Puerto Rico total is 433. Another 82 units located in Canada and 32 units in Mexico made the strongest contribution to international results, according to the company. Costco ended January with 22 clubs in the United Kingdom., 11 in Japan, eight in Taiwan, seven in Korea and three in Australia. The company is poised to surpass 600 units worldwide by the time its fiscal year ends Sept. 2 as 12 new warehouses are slated to open worldwide during the next six months.