Costco Wholesale Corp. reported an 8% gain in net sales for the second quarter ended February 17 to $24.34 billion from $22.51 billion last year. Excluding the impact of gasoline and currency price fluctuations, comparable store sales for the company’s warehouse clubs in the United States increased 5% and those from international markets added 4% for a company comp of 5%.
For the four weeks ended March 3, Costco reported net sales of $7.58 billion, representing an 8% increase from February 2011. Excluding price and currency fluctuations, U.S. comps gained 6% and international comps advanced 7% for a company-wide figure of 6%.
Comps beat a Thomson Reuters composite analyst estimate although total sales fell a bit below Wall Street expectations.
Among merchandising categories, as designated by Costco, Softlines experienced high single digit comp gains with small appliances and home furnishings, up in the double digits, among the segment leaders. Hardlines comps advanced “slightly better than mid single digits,” said a Costco spokesperson in a conference call. He added that Food and Sundries comps increased in the mid single digit range while Fresh Food comps advanced in the high single digits.
Costco operates 622 warehouse clubs, with 448 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 85 in Canada, 32 in Mexico, 23 in the United Kingdom, 13 in Japan, nine in Taiwan, nine in Korea and three in Australia, as well as electronic commerce web sites at www.costco.com, www.costco.ca and www.costco.co.uk. The company stated that it plans to open up to 14 new retail units before the end of its fiscal year on September 1.