December Continues Costco Sales Gains

Costco Wholesale Corp. posted a double-digit company comparable sales advance in December.

With the effects of gasoline price and foriegn exchange volatility excluded, Costco’s December comparable sales increased 11% in the United States, 5.7% in Canada, and 15.8% in other international markets for a company total gain of 10.9% year over year. E-commerce comps gained 61.6% versus Costco’s fiscal December 2020.

Member visit frequency slipped a bit globally in the month year over year, with movement restrictions due to COVID-19 hurting traffic in some markets, the company stated in a conference call. However, it advanced 1.3% in the U.S. Average transaction company wide was up 11.4% versus December 2020.

On a regional basis, the strongest sales gains were in the Southeast, Texas and the Northeast versus the year-earlier month.

December Softline sales increased year over year in the mid teens, with home furnishings, housewares and small appliances best. Hardline sales were positive in the high teens with sporting goods, garden, hardware and majors including consumer electronics strongest. Food and Sundries sales were up in the low double digits while Fresh Foods sales were up in the high teens.

The company reported that December net sales increased 12.3% versus the 2020 month to $19.14 billion.

Costco operates 803 warehouses, including 558 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 102 in Canada, 39 in Mexico, 29 in the United Kingdom, 27 in Japan, 16 in Korea, 14 in Taiwan, 12 in Australia, three in Spain, and one each in Iceland, France, and China. The company also operates e-commerce websites in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Mexico, Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Australia.