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Top Retailers Report Lower August Sales

High fuel costs, tough year-ago comparisons due to calendar shifts and 2003 tax refunds, and tepid Olympics and back-to-school traffic put a crimp in August retail sales.

Best Buy, which doesn’t break out monthly results, reported a 12 percent gain in domestic revenue to $5.5 billion for its 2005 second fiscal quarter, ended Aug. 28, driven by the opening of 75 new stores over the past 12 months. Comparable stores sales were up 4.4 percent at the company’s namesake big-box units and rose 6.8 percent at the Magnolia Audio Video chain. Both divisions benefited from brisk DTV sales — together up by the high double-digits — thanks to expanded assortments and increased consumer interest, the company said. Best Buy also enjoyed high single-digit comp gains in major appliances (excluding room air), which it attributed to a wider selection and convenient delivery options.

At Sears, total sales for the four weeks ended Aug. 27 fell 7.1 percent to $1.9 billion, and comp store sales slipped 6.1 percent. CE sales fell by the low teens year-over-year, while majaps comps declined by the mid-single digits, the company said.

Total sales at Wal-Mart stores rose 7 percent to $14.3 billion for the four weeks ended Aug. 27, although same store sales were essentially flat. At Target, total sales rose 8.4 percent to $3.4 billion for the four weeks ended Aug. 28, and comp sales increased 1.8 percent.

Among the wholesale clubs in August, sales at Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club division rose 4 percent to $2.7 billion, while comps grew 2.7 percent; Costco’s sales rose 7 percent to $3.7 billion, while comps grew 4 percent; and BJ’s Wholesale Club’s revenue grew 8.3 percent to $534 million, as comps grew 4.5 percent.

At novelty CE merchant Sharper Image, total sales grew 16 percent in August to $43.3 million, total store revenue rose 12 percent to $26 million, and comp store sales slipped 6 percent, which was in line with recent company guidance.