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Costco March sales reflect slowdown in discretionary spending

Costco currently operates 850 warehouses around the globe.

Costco Wholesale Corp. reported March sales that showed consumers focusing on food and everyday essential items as opposed to home furnishings and other discretionary categories.

The membership warehouse club retailer reported that its net sales increased 0.5% to $21.71 billion for the five weeks ended April 2, compared to $21.61 billion in the year-ago period.

Total company comparable sales fell 1.1%, the first decrease in nearly three years.  Comp sales were down 1.5% in the United States and 2.4% in Canada. International comp sales rose 2%.  In the U.S., comp sales were strongest in the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest.

Total comp sales excluding the impact from changes in gasoline prices and foreign exchange rose 2.6%, rising 0.9% in the U.S. and 7.4% in Canada. International comp sales rose 7.6%. E-commerce comp sales dropped 12.7%. E-commerce sales fell 11.6%.

By category, sales of food and sundries rose in the high-single digits. Sales of in non-food categories were down in the mid- to high-single digits. Home furnishings, major appliances toys and jewelry were among the worst performers.

For the thirty-one weeks ended April 2, 2023, Costco reported net sales of $137.77 billion, an increase of 6.0% from $130.00 billion last year. Total company comp sales are up 4.5% year to date.

As previously reported, Costco expects to open 24 new warehouses in its current fiscal year, which includes 14 U.S. locations. In addition to China, Costco’s new international include its first-ever stores in New Zealand and Sweden, both of which opened during its first quarter.

Costco currently operates 850 warehouses, including 585 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 107 in Canada, 40 in Mexico, 31 in Japan, 29 in the United Kingdom, 18 in Korea, 14 in Taiwan, 14 in Australia, four in Spain, three in China and two in France, and one each in Iceland, New Zealand and Sweden. Costco also operates e-commerce sites in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Australia.

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