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CE Weighs On January Chain Sales

2/07/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

NEW YORK — National discount chains said weak CE
sales were a drag on January results.

Among those reporting their monthly tallies, Target said
net retail sales rose 2.2 percent in January to $4.4 billion
while comp-store sales edged up 1.7 percent. Chairman,
president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said January comps
fell “below expectations, particularly in portions of the
South and the Northeast,” and that the economic environment
is expected to remain challenging.

Target said CE, along with music, movies and
books, was the weakest-performing of its hardlines
departments, leading the category down by the midsingle
digits.

Within the warehouse club channel, Costco said
net sales rose 12 percent to $6.3 billion in January,
while U.S. comp store sales increased 4 percent excluding
the positive impact of gasoline.

Less positive was the impact of CE. Costco reported
softness in audio, imaging and navigation, and a
mid-single digit decline in TV dollar volume year over
year on flat unit sales, which was only partially offset
by gains in wireless handsets.

At BJ’s Wholesale Club, net January sales rose
6.5 percent to $780 million, and comps sales (excluding
gasoline) and traffic were essentially flat to last
year, with TV and prerecorded video among the poorest-
performing categories.

Separately, BJ’s said it may put itself up for sale as
it weighs strategic alternatives. The chain has hired
Morgan Stanley as its financial advisor for the process.