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Warehouse Clubs Post Weak August Comps

Issaquah, Wash. — Warehouse clubs Costco and BJ’s posted anemic same-store sales gains for August, fanning fears of weakening consumer sentiment amid slumping home prices and higher mortgage rates.

Costco‘s comp-store sales rose 1 percent within the United States, while net sales increased 6 percent company-wide last month to $4.8 billion.

Comp sales for the fiscal fourth quarter, ended Sept. 2, were up 4 percent in the United States and rose 5 percent for the full fiscal year. Fourth-quarter sales rose 3 percent to $20 billion, while net sales for the full 2007 fiscal year rose 7 percent to $63 billion.

Brown and white goods were among the chain’s strongest performers in August, with comp sales up by the double digits. Leading the charge were TVs, computers and digital cameras.

“The increases were not quite as robust as previous months, but it was still a nice showing given the overall softer month,” a spokesperson said.

Costco attributed the soft August results in part to a heat wave in California that curtailed foot traffic in the chain’s most heavily stored state.

Similarly, BJ’s said comp sales increased 1.4 percent in August while net sales rose 6.4 percent to $661.7 million. Comps include a negative impact of 2.4 percent from lower gasoline prices and a negative impact of 0.4 percent from the absence of pharmacy sales versus last year, the company said.

CE was among the weaker performing categories last month, BJ’s noted, with the exception of TV, which enjoyed strong comp gains. Strong year-over-year sales increases were also cited in room air.