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CE Weighs On Jan. Chain Sales

New York – National
discount chains said weak CE sales were a drag on January results.

Among those reporting
their monthly tallies, Target said net retail sales rose 2.2 percent in January
to $4.4 billion while comp-store sales edged up 1.7 percent. Chairman,
president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said January comps fell “below expectations,
particularly in portions of the South and the Northeast,” and that the economic
environment is expected to remain challenging.

Target said CE, along
with music, movies and books, was the weakest-performing of its hardlines
departments, leading the category down by the mid-single digits.

Within the warehouse club
channel, Costco said net sales rose 12 percent to $6.3 billion in January,
while U.S. comp store sales increased 4 percent excluding the positive impact
of gasoline.

Less positive was the
impact of CE. Costco reported softness in audio, imaging and navigation, and a
mid-single digit decline in TV dollar volume year over year on flat unit sales,
which was only partially offset by gains in wireless handsets.

At BJ’s Wholesale Club,
net January sales rose 6.5 percent to $780 million, and comps sales (excluding
gasoline) and traffic were essentially flat to last year, with TV and prerecorded
video among the poorest-performing categories.

Separately, BJ’s said it
may put itself up for sale as it weighs strategic alternatives. The chain has
hired Morgan Stanley as its financial advisor for the process.