Housewares Help Costco Overcome Easter Impact

For April, Costco Wholesale Corp. posted net sales of $8.56 billion, an increase of 7% from the month last year. Excluding the impact of foreign currency and gasoline price fluctuations, comparable store sales in the United States were up 5% in the month while those for the International segment gained 7%.

Total company comps in April gained 5%.

The four-week fiscal April this year included 27 days of sales versus 28 days last year, reflecting the timing of Easter. Costco noted that the calendar shift negatively impacted this year’s net and comparable sales by an estimated 1.5 to 2 percentage points.

In a conference call, Costco noted that its best performing regions in the United States were the Southeast, Midwest and California. As regards categories, comps for Softlines were up in the high single digits with housewares, domestics, apparel and jewelry among the best-performing segments, Costco pointed out. Hardline comps were flat with auto, tire and hardware up and office and electronics down, although electronics was only “slightly” negative, as related on the conference call. Food & Sundries comps gained in the mid single digits and Fresh Food advanced in the low double digits.

Costco operates 652 warehouse clubs, with 463 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 87 in Canada, 33 in Mexico, 25 in the United Kingdom, 19 in Japan, 10 in Taiwan, 10 in Korea and five in Australia. The company also operates E-commerce web sites in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Mexico.