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CE Boosts May Sales For Discounters

New York — A surge in CE sales at full-line discount chains helped mass merchants recover from the prior month’s sales slump.

Net sales at Wal-Mart’s flagship discount stores rose 5.5 percent in May to $18 billion although same-store sales were stagnant, up just 0.3 percent. President/CEO Eduardo Castro-Wright suggested that the flat comps were attributable to higher gas prices, and said the retailer is responding by reinforcing its price leadership positioning through advertising and in-store communications.

At Target, net May sales grew 10.1 percent to $4.3 billion while comp-store sales climbed 5.8 percent. CE was one of its strongest performers, the retailer said, and music and movies among its weakest.

Within the warehouse club channel, Costco reported an 11 percent spike in net sales of $5.1 billion company-wide, and a 7 percent increase in comps. The retailer reported “very strong” sales increases in TVs, printers and digital cameras, as well as strength in computers, A/V and major appliances. At Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club unit, net sales rose 8.1 percent to $3.5 billion and comps rose 5.4 percent with an assist from CE, the company said. BJ’s, the No. 3 warehouse club, said May sales rose 8.2 percent to $711 million while comps increased 4.1 percent, citing strength in major appliances and TVs.

Sharper Image, the struggling novelty CE chain, said net sales fell 27 percent in May to $24.1 million, while same-store sales slowed their decline to 8 percent year over year.