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August Sales Up For Discount Chains

New York – Back-to-school shopping
helped offset weak TV demand to boost August sales for national discount chains
Target, Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club.

Target said net retail sales rose
5.4 percent last month to $5.3 billion and comparable-store sales increased 4.1
percent, reflecting “solid results in our back-to-school and back-to-college
categories,” noted chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel.

Nevertheless, he described the pace
of the economic recovery as “uneven and uncertain.”

At Costco, net sales increased 17
percent to $6.9 billion, including revenue from the wholesale club’s joint
venture in Mexico. Comp-store sales rose 6 percent in the U.S., excluding the
positive impact of higher gasoline prices.

Costco said CE experienced mid to
high single-digit comp declines on weakness in computers, audio and TVs, with
the latter down in both units and dollars. Conversely, cameras rebounded with a
“nice uptick” relative to last year, a spokesperson said.

Separately, Costco announced that
its CEO and co-founder Jim Sinegal will step down Jan. 1, 2012. He will be
succeeded by president and chief operating officer Craig Jelinek, who joined
the company 28 years ago as a warehouse manager and has since held every major
merchandising and operations role, the retailer said. Sinegal will remain with
Costco through January 2013 as a director and advisor.

Meanwhile BJ’s, which is being
acquired by the Leonard Green & Partners investment group, said August
sales rose 14.9 percent to $901.6 million and same-store sales increased 7.9
percent excluding gasoline. Electronics was cited among the month’s strongest
performers year-over-year, although TVs and pre-recorded video were among the
weakest categories.