Amid a shopping surge related to the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. and beyond, Costco reported net sales of $15.49 billion for the retail month of March, the five weeks ended April 5, an increase of 11.7% year over year.
With the effects of gasoline price shifts and foreign exchange rates excluded, Costco comparable sales gained 12.3%, with the U.S. up 12.1%, Canada up 7.2% and other international markets up 19.2%. E-commerce comparable sales advanced 49.8%.
March sales were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the company stated in a conference call, with traffic gaining through the middle of March then declining as the company cut some ancillary businesses such as optical and some main floor product categories deemed non essential, as well as limiting the number of customers allowed through the doors at any given time to promote social distancing.
The strongest markets in the month were Texas, the Northeast and the Midwest. By market segment, food and sundries comp gains were in the mid-30% range, while fresh food gained in the mid-20s. Hardlines comps slipped in the low single digits with tires, sporting goods and lawn and garden among the softer categories.
In softlines, including home furnishings and housewares, comps declined in the mid-20% range, with luggage, jewelry and apparel among the weaker categories.