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Bad Weather Hurt May’s Retail Sales

Mass merchants posted modest comp gains last month as unusually cold, wet weather dampened sales of seasonal items like room air conditioners.

Among discount chains, Wal-Mart’s net sales rose 9.1 percent in May to $15.7 billion, while comparable store sales came in at the low end of company projections at 2.7 percent. Target said net sales rose 12.1 percent last month to $3.5 billion while comp sales grew 5.1 percent.

Among the wholesale clubs, Costco said net sales rose 8 percent in May to $4.1 billion while comps at domestic stores gained 3 percent, in part on “strength” in the computer, A/V and white goods categories. The company also said it would open upwards of eight new stores over the next three months, and will add T-Mobile and Verizon to its Sprint wireless offering as it moves to an outsourced kiosk model. The chain-wide kiosks will be independently operated by Wireless Advocates, founded by Car Toys CEO Dan Brettler.

RadioShack similarly operates wireless kiosks for Sam’s Club. The latter reported net sales of $3.1 billion in May, an increase of 4.4 percent, while same store sales edged up 1.6 percent. Meanwhile, BJ’s said May sales grew 4.7 percent to $603.4 million while comps remained essentially flat. “Strong” comp sales of CE products, particularly TVs, helped offset declines in room air and other seasonal categories, owing to last month’s cold, wet weather.

Among specialty chains, Sharper Image said net sales fell 11 percent to $45.6 million and comps declined 15 percent in May, as the company transitions to a new product array that will launch in the third quarter.