Saving the best for last

Sam’s Club president and CEO Brian Cornell may have been the last of Walmart’s three divisional presidents to speak on the company’s conference call, but he had the best news to share.

Sam’s produced a 5.7% third-quarter same-store sales increase that was unaided by fuel prices, and Cornell indicated the string of seven consecutive quarters of sequentially increasing comps could be extended in the fourth quarter, with guidance that set 6% as the upper end of the forecast range. 

“The quality of our comp-sales growth in our core categories remains very strong,” Cornell said, noting that the increase results from both improvements in transaction size and customer traffic. “Overall, we believe that inflation impacted our comp-club sales

by 325 to 375 basis points. We continue to see mid-single-digit inflation in food categories. Despite the inflation, units sold increased year-over-year.”

Total sales increased 6.2% to $11.8 billion, excluding fuel. If the contribution of fuel is included, sales increase 9.5% to $13.3 billion as Sam’s saw an 11% increase in gallons sold and at an average price per gallon that was 34% higher than the prior year. Gross profit was up and expenses were down as a percent of sales, membership trends were favorable and operating income increased 6.3% to $390 million.