Lots of traffic, but less spending at Costco

A strong increase in shopper traffic at Costco during November translated to a 3% increase in same-store sales, excluding gas, at U.S. locations during the four-week November reporting period which ended December 1.

Costco didn’t comment specifically on Thanksgiving weekend sales during a recorded call to recap results, but the company did say that traffic increased a little more than 4% while average transaction sizes were down slightly. Costco and its direct competitors Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club were closed on Thanksgiving Day.

The company said total sales for the November reporting period increased 5% to $8.78 billion from $8.4 billion. In conjunction with the release of November results, Costco also noted that sales for its first quarter which ended November 24 and excludes Thanksgiving weekend sales also increased 5% to $24.5 billion from $23.2 billion. The company is scheduled to report full financial results on December 11.

Sales in both periods were negatively affected by lower average selling prices per gallon of gas and foreign exchange rates. International same stores sales increased 1%, but gained 6% on a constant currency basis.

Categories that performed the best were fresh food, with comps up in the high single digits, and softlines which advanced in the mid to high single digit range. Food and sundries increased in the low to mid single digit range while hardlines declined in the negative to mid single digits. The company also noted that its ancillary businesses of pharmacy, hearing and optical performed well.

Costco ended November with 648 warehouses, including 461 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 87 in Canada, 33 in Mexico, 25 in the United Kingdom, 18 in Japan, 10 in Taiwan, nine in Korea and five in Australia.

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