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Target, Costco Post Mixed Nov. Sales

Minneapolis – Target trailed Costco in November sales
growth, but both retailers reported strength in CE.

Target said net November sales rose 3 percent to $6.2
billion and comparable store sales edged up 1.8 percent.

CE delivered the strongest performance in hardlines, which
fell by the low single digits, and sales were strongest on Black Friday as customers
“responded to our midnight opening and compelling prices,” CEO Gregg Steinhafel

Nevertheless, the November take was near the low-end of Target’s
sales projections due to tough year-over-year comparisons, he noted.

Target is forecasting low mid-single digit comp-store
increases for December due to expectations of “a competitive and promotional
environment as consumers continue to focus on value,” Steinhafel said.

In contrast, Costco, which does not generally participate in
Black Friday promotions, said net November sales increased 11 percent, to $7.5
billion, and U.S. comp store sales, excluding gasoline, grew 6 percent.

CE sales rose within the low- to mid-single digit range, led
by computers, cameras and camcorders, tablets and TV.

In a reversal of recent trends, Costco’s TV dollar volume
was up by the high single digits while unit volume fell by the mid-single
digits. In a pre-recorded call, Costco assistant finance VP Jeff Elliott
attributed the change to increased sales of larger-screen LED models after the
company traded out most of its LCD and plasma assortment.

Elliott also reported November declines in the audio and
personal navigation categories.