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Costco’s CE Sales Falter

Issaquah, Wash. Costco’s U.S. comp sales edged up 3 percent in November, blunted in part by a downturn in CE.

The No. 1 warehouse club said CE comps were negative for the month, continuing a recent reversal in what had been steady category growth through most of this year and last.

Total revenue rose 5 percent in November, to $8.9 billion, and also increased 5 percent for the three months ended Dec. 1, to $24.5 billion. U.S. comps for the quarter were up 4 percent excluding gasoline.

Traffic increased 4.25 percent in November but average purchase size was down 2 percent.

In a research note, Janney Montgomery Scott retail analyst David Strasser attributed the weak CE showing to a late Thanksgiving and a “heightened promotional environment led by Walmart,” particularly in 32-inch and 60-inch TVs. Costco, an early advocate of Vizio, also lost its advantage with that brand following its rollout at Best Buy earlier this year, he noted.

The company also sacrificed CE share by remaining closed on Thanksgiving Day, when many retailers including Walmart, Best Buy, Sears and h.h.gregg chose to open their doors.