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Retailers Report Better Feb. Sales

Publicly held full-line merchants enjoyed moderate sales gains in February, despite a Presidents’ Day blizzard that shuttered thousands of stores along the East Coast.

One exception to the positive showing was Sears, whose total sales fell 7.9 percent from February 2002 to $1.7 billion, while comp store sales slipped 9.4 percent. Contributing to the declines were CE, which was down by the low double digits, and major appliances, which slumped by the mid-single digits, the company said. Chairman /CEO Alan Lacy cited the severe winter weather and a shift in promotions from February to March for the poor performance.

Among the discount chains, Wal-Mart said sales at its namesake stores rose 9.6 percent in February to $12.2 billion while comps rose 2.6 percent compared to an 11 percent rise last year. Similarly, sales at Target’s flagship stores rose 8.8 percent last month to $2.5 billion while comps slipped 0.5 percent compared to a 10 percent increase last year.

Among the warehouse clubs:

  • Costco said February net revenue rose 10 percent to $3 billion while domestic same store sales rose 7 percent;
  • Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club reported an 8.1-percent hike in net to $2.4 billion and a 2.4 percent gain in comps;
  • And BJ’s said net spiked 16.9 percent to $430.5 million as comps rose 6.7 percent. President/CEO Mike Wedge attributed the gains to February’s terrorist alert, which “generated strong sales of stock-up merchandise.” He included computers among the month’s weaker categories.