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Nov. Same-store Sales Up at Leading Mass, Club Retailers

BENTONVILLE, Ark., ISSAQUAH, Wash., MINNEAPOLIS and NATICK, Mass. -- The country's top mass retailers -- which also happen to be those giving many grocers a run for their money -- yesterday reported higher same-store sales for November.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. said net sales at its conventional U.S. Wal-Mart stores for the four-week period ending Nov. 25, 2005 reached $17.384 billion, a 10.5 percent increase from the prior-year period. Comparable sales were up 3.8 percent. However, Wal-Mart's expectations for December were down slightly, as the retailer figures sales from gift cards will push business to January. Comparable sales in the U.S. for the December five-week period are expected to be in the 2 percent-to-4 percent range. The retailer's Sam's Club division fared well in November, too, with an 8.5 percent increase in net sales and an impressive 7.0 percent increase in comparable sales.

Costco Wholesale Corp., based in Issaquah, Wash., reported U.S. net sales of $4.45 billion for the four weeks ended Nov. 27, an increase of 9 percent from the prior fiscal year. Comparable sales for the four-week period were up 6 percent.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. said its net retail sales from continuing operations (principally Target Stores) for the four weeks ended Nov. 26, 2005 increased 9.1 percent to $4.583 billion from a year ago. Comparable-store sales increased a more modest 2.6 percent.

Bob Ulrich, Target's chairman and c.e.o., said the company's performance strengthened as the month progressed. "Our outlook for this year's holiday season remains optimistic, and we continue to expect that we will achieve profitable market share gains," he said.

Natick, Mass.-based BJ's Wholesale Club, Inc. posted November 2005 sales of $621.8 million, a 5.3 percent rise from the $590.6 million reported in the year-ago period, thanks in part to strong food sales. Comparable-club sales went up 1.8 percent for the month, including a contribution from gasoline sales of 1.2 percent. In November 2004 BJ's posted a comparable-club sales rise of 1.8 percent for the month, including a 1.6 percent contribution from gas sales.

On a comparable-club basis, excluding gasoline sales, traffic declined about 4 percent and the average transaction amount grew about 4 percent, BJ's noted, while food sales shot up about 6 percent and general merchandise sales declined about 5 percent.

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