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Costco, BJ's Report Higher May Sales

ISSAQUAH, Wash. and NATICK, Mass. -- Costco Wholesale Corp. and BJ's Wholesale Club both racked up sales increases this past month -- but BJ's saw room for improvement as the company hoped for improved weather in the coming weeks.

Costco yesterday reported net sales of $4.11 billion for the four weeks ended May 29, a rise of 8 percent from $3.80 billion in the same four-week period of the previous year.

For the first 39 weeks of its 2005 fiscal year ended May 29, Costco posted net sales of $38.54 billion, a rise of 10 percent from $35.15 billion during the similar 39-week period last year.

Comparable sales for the four-week period ended May 29, 2005, were 3 percent for U.S. locations, 12 percent for international locations, and 5 percent for the total company. For the 39-week period ended May 29, comp sales were 6 percent for U.S. locations, 11percent for international locations, and 7 percent for the total company.

BJ's reported that its May sales went up 4.7 percent to $603.4 million from $576.4 million in May 2004. Comparable-club sales for May grew 0.5 percent, including a contribution from sales of gasoline of 20 basis points. Last year, the company posted a comparable-club sales increase of 12 percent for the month, including a contribution from sales of gasoline of 2.3 percent.

"Cold, wet weather throughout the month negatively affected sales in more than half the chain," said BJ's president and c.e.o. Mike Wedge. "Departments affected by adverse weather conditions included air conditioners and fans, apparel, beverages, grills, lawn and garden, outdoor furniture, sporting goods, and seasonal toys. While seasonal sales were disappointing, we are encouraged by the fact that most of the summer sales season is still ahead of us and a break in the weather could release pent-up demand."

Excluding sales of gasoline, traffic went down about 1 percent, and the average transaction amount grew about 2 percent.

On a comparable-club basis, sales of food increased about 5 percent, and general merchandise sales declined about 6 percent. Categories with solid comparable-club sales increases over last year included coffee, paper products, pet food, and snacks, as well as electronics and televisions. Weaker categories in comparison with last year included air conditioners and fans, apparel, grills, lawn and garden, outdoor furniture, residential furniture, sporting goods, and toys.

Costco operates 453 warehouses, including 334 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 64 in Canada, 16 in the United Kingdom, five in Korea, four in Taiwan, five in Japan and 25 in Mexico, as well as Costco Online, an e-commerce Web site. The company plans to open seven to eight additional new warehouses before the end of its fiscal year 2005, on Aug. 28, 2005. BJ's currently operates 159 clubs, including two ProFoods Restaurant Supply clubs, and 83 gas stations.
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