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CE Spurs July Sales For Discounters

New York — Consumers set aside concerns over ballooning mortgages, falling home prices and high energy costs to snap up CE products at the nation’s big-box discount chains last month.

Wal-Mart said electronics continued to show “solid comparable store sales gains over last year,” citing particular strength in TVs, computers, digital cameras and video games. Net sales at its namesake discount stores rose 6.7 percent in July to nearly $17.6 billion, and same-store sales edged up 1.3 percent.
Wal-Mart stepped up its promotional activity last month with price rollbacks and “save even more” programs on over 16,000 products. “Customers are responding to the pricing initiatives and traffic trends are improving,” said Wal-Mart Stores U.S. president/CEO Eduardo Castro-Wright, although the moves are impacting the company’s gross margins.

Target similarly enjoyed some of its strongest comparable sales by category in CE. That, along with increases in transaction size and volume, propelled net sales 10.8 percent to $4.4 billion while same-store sales grew 6.1 percent.

Among the wholesale clubs, channel leader Costco posted solid sales of computers, A/V products and white goods, led by strength in TVs and digital cameras. Net sales rose 11 percent worldwide to $4.5 billion last month and comparable U.S. sales increased 6 percent.

Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club division said electronics also helped drive a 6.7 percent increase in net July sales, to $3.3 billion, and a 5 percent gain in comps.

At BJ’s, strong sales of TVs and video game hardware helped offset a “significant decline” in room air conditioner volume, which the company attributed to very strong AC sales last year. Net revenue for the month grew 6 percent to $650.5 million while comps increased 6 percent.

Separately, specialty retailer Sharper Image said net sales fell 29 percent to $24.7 million in July and comp-store sales decreased 15 percent.