Slow CE Sales Dogged Discounters In October

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New York - CE proved to be the weak link in otherwise stable October sales, discount chains reported.

At Target, revenue edged up 2.2 percent to $4.6 billion and same-store sales rose 1.7 percent for the four weeks ended Oct. 31. "October sales were near the low end of our expectations," acknowledged chairman/president/CEO Gregg Steinhafel, although business improved in the back-half of the month and sales of non-discretionary items -- with the exception of pre-recorded music and movies -- continue to outpace other categories.

"While the environment remains uncertain, we're entering the fourth quarter with exciting holiday marketing and compelling merchandise," he said -- including the Nov. 7 rollout of the iPhone and a 5 percent discount on all purchases made with Target's private label credit card or debit cards.

Within the wholesale club channel, Costco said net sales rose 11 percent to $6.3 billion for the four weeks ending Oct. 31, while U.S. same-store sales rose 3 percent excluding the favorable impact of higher gasoline prices.

Comp-store sales of CE slid by the low single digits, due largely to a mid-teens percentage drop in TV unit volume year over year, and a slight decline in pricing. The downturn was partially offset by comp increases in majaps, navigation and wireless, the company said.

TV also faltered at BJ's Wholesale Club, where net sales increased 6.3 percent to $812.7 million last month and same-store sales rose 2.2 percent excluding gasoline. The chain achieved the sales gains without the help of TVs and prerecorded video, which were among its weakest performers compared to the year-ago period, BJ's said.


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