Sept. CE Sales Soft For Discounters - Twice

Sept. CE Sales Soft For Discounters

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New York - National discount chains reported continued weakness in consumer electronics last month despite a rebound in net September sales.

Target

said net retail sales for the five weeks ended Oct. 2 rose 3.1 percent to $5.6 billion and comparable-store sales increased 1.3 percent. CE, including video games, was among the month's weakest performers, contributing to a mid-single digit decline in the company's hardlines business.

In a statement, chairman/CEO Gregg Steinhafel described the September results as "near the low end of our expectations," but said he was pleased with the company's back-to-school and back-to-college business. He described traffic trends as strong, which helped offset a small decrease in average transaction size.

Steinhafel added that two new initiatives have positioned Target well for the holiday selling season: a 5-percent discount on all purchases made with the company's private-label and Visa debit and credit cards, and expanded food departments in 462 remodeled stores.

Within the warehouse club channel,

Costco

reported a 10 percent increase in net sales for the five weeks ended Oct. 3, to $7.5 billion, and a 2 percent gain in U.S. comp-store sales. Comp sales of CE and appliances fell by the high single digits, led by TVs which declined by the low double digits in both unit and dollar volume.

The company also released its fiscal fourth-quarter and full-year results. For the three months ended Aug. 29, net sales rose 8 percent to $23.6 billion, U.S. comp sales increased 3 percent excluding gasoline, and profits rose 15.5 percent to $432 million.

For the full year ended Aug. 29, net sales rose 9 percent to $76.3 billion, U.S. comp sales increased 2 percent excluding gasoline, and profits rose 19.2 percent to $1.3 billion.

At

BJ's Wholesale Club

, September sales rose 3.6 percent to $961.6 million and comp sales edged up 0.8 percent excluding gasoline. The company included TVs and video software on its list of weakest categories last month and, like Target, cited an increase in traffic but a decrease in transaction size.

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