No Sales Slowdown at Costco in March

Comps, revenue still accelerating
Gina Acosta
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Costco reported net sales of $18.21 billion for the retail month of March, an increase of 17.6% from $15.49 billion last year.

If the pandemic grocery boom is over, don't tell that to Costco Wholesale.

Same-store sales and revenue are still accelerating at the club retailer, which reported net sales of $18.21 billion for the retail month of March, the five weeks ended April 4, an increase of 17.6% from last year. Same-store sales excluding the effects of fuel and currency exchange increased 11.3% in the U.S.

For the 31 weeks ended April 4, the company reported net sales of $111.37 billion, an increase of 15.7% from $96.25 billion during the similar period last year.

This year’s five-week March retail month had one fewer shopping day versus last year, due to the calendar shift of Easter. This negatively impacted total and comparable sales by approximately one and one-half to two percent.

Last month, Costco said net sales increased 14.7% during its second quarter to $43.89 billion from $38.26 billion last year. Same-store sales increased 12.6% in the U.S. excluding the impacts from changes in gasoline prices and foreign exchange. Digital sales were up 80.3%. Average ticket grew by 12% during the second quarter.

During an earnings call on March 4, Costco CFO Richard Galanti said membership at Costco grew 8% during the quarter and that the retailer's member retention rate is now more than 90%. 

Costco reported a profit of $951 million, or $2.14 a share, for the quarter, up from $931 million, or $2.10 a share, in the same period last year. This included $246 million in costs related to wages paid during the pandemic. 

Last month Costco said it would increase its minimum wage by $1 to $16. CEO Craig Jelinek made the announcement during a Senate Budget Committee hearing on pay at large retail and fast-food employers.

Jelinek added that Costco's hourly workers in the U.S. are paid on average above $25.

Costco employs about 180,000 U.S. workers.

“This isn’t altruism,” Jelinek said. “It helps in the long run by minimizing turnover, maximizing employee productivity, commitment and loyalty.” In the U.S., employees average more than nine years with the company, he said.

Jelinek also said the company offers regular raises, bonuses and health care benefits. About 89% of workers are currently eligible for health care coverage, he said.

Issaquah-based Costco operates 807 warehouses worldwide, including 543 in the United States and Puerto Rico. The company, which is No. 5 on Progressive Grocer’s 2020 PG 100 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, also has e-commerce sites in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Korea and Taiwan.

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