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Rite Aid sales ‘solid’ in March

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid’s comparable-store sales increased by 3.6% in March, while total drug store sales increased by 3.1%, the retail pharmacy chain said Thursday.

Front-end comps increased by 4.6%, while pharmacy comps increased by 3.2%. Total sales were nearly $2 billion, compared with $1.93 billion in March 2011.

John Heinbockel, an analyst with New York investment bank Guggenheim Partners, called Rite Aid’s March sales "solid" and in line with the firm’s same-store sales growth projection of 3.7%, while the growth in front-end comps exceeded the forecasted 3%. Heinbockel said the growth in comps was due to a "clear, but hard-to-quantify" benefit from warm weather that led to strong sales of beverages and skin care products, as well as the earlier Easter.

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More March madness: Target comps increase 7.3%

BY DSN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS — For the second month in a row, Target’s same-store sales were nearly double the expected amount. As a result, the company increased its first-quarter guidance.

Same-store sales increased 7.3%, with half of the increase driven by growth in average transaction size combined with an increase in comparable-store transactions. Overall comparable-store sales in March 2011 decreased 5.5%.

“March sales were well above our expectations, reflecting a healthy underlying trend combined with the benefit of an earlier Easter and favorable weather this year. We’re now planning for a revised first-quarter comparable-store sales increase of 5% to 6%, reflecting a low-to-mid single-digit increase in our April comparable-store sales,” Target chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said.

As a result of stronger-than-expected sales through March, the company currently expects first quarter 2012 adjusted EPS of $1.04 to $1.10, compared with prior guidance range from 97 cents to $1.07. The company expects GAAP EPS of 96 cents to $1.02, compared with prior guidance of 88 cents to 98 cents. The 8-cent difference between the updated ranges represents the EPS impact in the first quarter of expected expenses related to the company’s Canadian market entry slightly offset by the favorable resolution of income tax uncertainties.

In March, every region experienced a healthy increase in comparable-store sales.

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Costco reports surge in monthly sales

BY Allison Cerra

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Sales for the month of March increased 10% for Costco to $9.13 billion, the wholesaler reported Thursday.

For the five weeks ended Apr. 1, comparable-store sales for the month were 6%; U.S. comps were 6% and international comps were 7%. Excluding inflation of gasoline prices and foreign currencies comparable sales for these periods were 6%, including 5% for the United States and 9% for international.

Costco currently operates 601 warehouses, including 434 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 82 in Canada, 32 in Mexico, 22 in the United Kingdom, 13 in Japan, eight in Taiwan, seven in Korea and three in Australia. The company plans to open up to an additional eight new warehouses prior to the end of its fiscal year on Sept. 2.

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