Wholesale clubs report rise in April sales

Costco, BJ's report monthly four-week earnings

NEW YORK — Sales during the month of April edged up for wholesalers Costco and BJ's Wholesale Club, the companies reported Thursday.

Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco reported a 17% increase for the four weeks ended May 1 to $6.8 billion, compared with the year-ago period. For the period ended April 30, BJ's disclosed a sales increase of 12.2% to $871.7 million, compared with April 2010.

On a comparable basis, however, the retailers differed: Costco said the calendar shift, which included one less day of sales and a later Easter, negatively impacted its sales by 1.5% to 2%, partially offset by several days of pre-Easter sales strength. Inflation in gasoline prices and strengthening foreign currencies had a positive impact on comparable sales. Excluding these effects, comps for Costco would have rose 6%.

Costco noted that its four-week period included sales from the company's Mexico joint venture. The company began consolidating its Mexico operations on a prospective basis beginning with its 2011 fiscal year. Excluding sales from its Mexico joint venture, Costco's net sales increase would have been 14%.

Meanwhile, BJ's comparable-club sales increased by 8.5%, including a contribution from sales of gasoline of 4.4%. Excluding the impact of gasoline, merchandise comparable-club sales increased by approximately 4.1%. A calendar shift in the timing of Easter had a positive impact on merchandise comparable-club sales of approximately 2.7%.

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