Easing gas prices and moderate temperatures kept consumers coming to discount chains last month, offsetting the financial impact of Hurricane Wilma on Florida locations.
Net sales at Wal-Mart's flagship discount stores grew 10.7 percent to $15.4 billion for the four weeks ended Oct. 28, while same-store sales gained 3.9 percent. The comparable-store sales figures for Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores exclude five hurricane-impacted locations that will remain closed for an extended period of time, the retailer said. Twelve company locations affected by hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma were still closed as of last Thursday (see story p. 4).
Target said net sales rose 11.6 percent in October to $3.7 billion, and same-store sales increased 5.7 percent, exceeding the chain's planned comp sale range of 3 percent to 5 percent for the month. Target also reported that it will receive at least $27 million as the ultimate share of proceeds from a $3 billion Visa/MasterCard antitrust litigation settlement.
Costco's net sales rose 12 percent to $4.3 billion in October while same-store sales grew 10 percent in October. The closure of 10 stores due to Hurricane Wilma impacted same-store sales by about 45 basis points due to the loss of 35 sales days, the company said, although all locations have reopened as of last week. The month's strongest performing categories included computers, A/V and white goods.
Total sales at Sam's Club grew 9.1 percent to $3 billion while same-store sales grew 6.7 percent, Wal-Mart said.
BJ's Wholesale Club said net October sales grew 7.5 percent to $588.3 million, and comparable-store sales increased 2.9 percent, driven in part by pre-hurricane stock up sales in Florida. The company attributed the below-plan performance in part to weakness in computer equipment, pre-recorded video and DVD, and video game hardware and software, among other categories.
Comparable-store sales for each warehouse club were buoyed by sharply higher gasoline prices.