Costco’s Same-Store U.S. Sales Edged Lower Last Month

Members still stocking up on food, as larger nonfood items lose traction
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
a woman smiling for the camera
Costco’s net sales were up 0.5% from last March to reach $21.71 billion.

In line with perceptions that consumers are less prone to buying bigger-ticket items in today’s economy, Costco’s March sales report showed resilience in food and downturns in nonfoods. According to information from the Washington-based club store operator, comparable sales of food and sundries rose in the high single digits last month.

On a category basis, produce and bakery performed well during the time period from Feb. 27 to April 2. Fresh foods sales were up at a growth rate in the mid-single digits, and the food court was a top department, said Josh Dahmen, Costco’s assistant VP of finance and investor relations, in an April 5 financial call.  

[Read more: "How Costco Leverages Loyalty to Drive Growth"]

At the same time, nonfood products posted sales declines in the negative mid-to-high single digits in the March selling period. Underperforming departments included home furnishings, toys and seasonal, jewelry and Costco’s “majors.” That said, health and beauty products continued a string of stable performances, perhaps reflecting shoppers’ embrace of smaller but rewarding personal care indulgences.

Dahmen echoed recent reports that inflation’s grip on the market may be loosening. “Year-over-year inflation for food and sundries and fresh food were both down from February,” he said.

Overall, and likely buoyed by higher prices, Costco’s net sales were up 0.5% from last March to reach $21.71 billion. The news wasn’t as rosy for same-store sales, as the company reported its first monthly comp sales decline in three years.

According to Costco’s report, comp sales were down 1.5% for the five-week period in the United States and declined 1.1% companywide. Taking out the impact of gas prices and foreign exchange, comp sales came in at 0.9% in the United States and 2.6% across all of Costco’s business footprints. E-commerce comp sales slid 12.7% in that time, while gas price deflation negatively impacted fuel sales at the retail business.

From a wider lens, Costco reported net sales of $137.77 billion for the 31 weeks ending April 2, a 6% leap from the previous year.

Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco has more than 550 locations and is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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