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Retail Sales Rebounded In June

7/10/2003 12:01:00 PM Eastern

New York — Full-line discounters found their footing in June, as revenue rebounded following months of sluggish sales.

For some, the recovery came without the usual seasonal assist from room air conditioners, demand for which had dropped with last month’s unusually cool, wet weather.

Among mass merchants, Sears said total sales slipped a softer 1.2 percent to $2.6 billion for the five weeks ended July 5 and comparable store sales edged down 1.8 percent.

But despite the milder across-the-board decline, sales of major appliances were down in the mid-single digits while its consumer electronics business was down in the low-double digits.

Sears attributed the majaps drop to frosty sales of room air conditioners, due to the unusually cool spring in much of the country.

The company has also yet to announce a new chief CE merchant following the reassignment of the category’s former VP/general manager Ray Brown in April.

Within the discount crowd, Wal-Mart’s flagship stores enjoyed a 9.5 percent sales hike for the five weeks ended July 4, to $16.7 billion, while same-store sales crept up 2.4 percent compared to an 8.7 percent gain during the year-ago period.

Unlike Sears, the company said warmer mid-month weather helped move seasonal items including room air conditioners.

Target also had a good June, with its namesake stores pulling in $3.6 billion for the five weeks ended July 5 — a 10.4 percent gain — and matching Wal-Mart’s 2.4 percent comps.

Among the wholesale clubs, Costco’s net sales climbed 11 percent to $4.3 billion for the five weeks ended July 6, and its same-store sales grew 5 percent domestically.

The company said the computer, A/V and white goods categories — which represent the highest sales volume within its hardlines business — enjoyed mid-single digit gains, and are “showing improvement over recent months.”

Meanwhile, June sales at Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club unit grew 8 percent to $3.4 billion with comps of 4.1 percent, while BJ’s Wholesale Club reported a 13.9-percent sales gain for the month to $658.7 million.

Comps grew 6 percent despite weaker sales of room air conditioners, film and batteries.

Elsewhere, novelty CE seller Sharper Image said total revenue grew 28 percent in June to $42.2 million, led by a 55-percent spike in online sales, while comp-store sales grew 15 percent.

Founder/chairman Richard Thalheimer said the company “enjoyed great consumer response” to its assortment of branded digital cameras, and “very favorable response” to its first DVD player, a proprietary model called the Personal Entertainment Center.

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