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April CE Sales Softened At Discount Stores

5/06/2010 10:34:53 AM Eastern
New York - National discount chains reported mixed results in April amid soft sales of TVs and other consumer electronics.

At Costco, net sales rose 13 percent to $5.8 billion and U.S. comp-store sales rose 3 percent excluding gasoline. Comp sales were down slightly within Costco's "majors" category, comprised of CE and majaps, due to lower unit and dollar volume in TVs. Revenue fell less sharply than units owing to increased penetration of LED TVs, which carry higher average selling prices.

TV sales were also impacted by diminished couponing, Costco said, although the warehouse club enjoyed "good strength" in cellphones, audio and other video categories.

The company said an earlier Easter and an additional sales day in April positively impacted net and comp sales by 2 percent to 3 percent.

At BJ's Warehouse Club, net sales rose 9.5 percent in April to $787 million while comp sales edged up less than 1 percent excluding gasoline.

The discounter cited weaker sales of air conditioners, TVs, computers and other CE compared with last year, and said the Easter holiday shift was responsible for a 1 percent decline in traffic. Average transaction amount was also smaller year over year.

At Target, net sales slipped 3.5 percent in April to $4.3 billion, and same-store sales slid 6 percent, as a greater-than-expected portion of sales were pulled into March due to the earlier Easter, explained chairman, president and CEO Greg Steinhafel.

Comp sales for Target's hardlines merchandise category, which includes CE, performed below the company average, and was dragged down by soft demand for music, movies and books, the company said.

Separately, Conn's, the multiregional electronics, appliance and furniture chain, said a weak local economy and tightened consumer credit lead to a 19.8 percent drop in comp-stores sales during its fiscal first quarter ended April 30, led by a 33 percent drop in TV sales (see story on www.TWICE.com).
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