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Discounters Post Aug. Sales Gains

New York – Back-to-school shopping and modest demand for CE helped Target and Costco post solid sales gains in August.

Target said net retail sales rose 4.7 percent, to $5.3 billion, for the four weeks ended Aug. 27, while comparable store sales increased 4.2 percent. About three-quarters of the comp gains were driven by an increase in average transaction size. Hardlines, which includes CE, posted a low single-digit increase in August comps.

Target chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said sales improved toward the second half of the month as shoppers responded to back-to-school sales.

Meanwhile, Costco said net sales rose 8 percent for the four weeks ended Aug. 26, to $7.4 billion, while U.S. comps increased 6 percent, excluding the positive impact of rising gasoline prices. Driving the increases were a 4.5 percent increase in customer traffic and a 1.5 percent increase in average transaction size.

The No. 1 wholesale club cited CE as one of its strongest performers within hardlines, contributing to a mid-single digit comp-store increase for the sector.

In other retail news, Sears will be removed from the Standard & Poor’s 500 next week after 47 years on the leading stock index. The departure, which was prompted by the high concentration of shares held by chairman Eddie Lambert, could result in a sharp drop in share price after the stock is removed from numerous index funds that follow the S&P.