Costco Q4 sales climb; annual profit hits milestone

Marianne Wilson
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Costco Wholesale Corp. ended its fiscal year on a strong note as consumers continued to shop its stores to stock up on items amid the pandemic.

The membership-based retailer’s net sales for the fourth quarter ended Aug. 30 increased 12.5% to $52.28 billion, its highest increase in nearly three years. Total revenue rose to $53.38 billion from $47.5 billion. E-commerce sales jumped 91% during the quarter.

Total same-store sales rose 11.4%, more than double the growth of the previous quarter. 

“As people are spending less on travel, air and hotel and dining out, they seem to have redirected at least some of those dollars to categories like lawn and garden, furniture, mattresses, exercise equipment, bicycles, housewares, cookware, domestics and the like,” Costco CFO Richard Galanti said on the company’s earnings call. 

Costco’s earnings rose to $1.39 billion, or $3.13 a share, from $1.097 billion, or $2.47 per share, in the year-ago period. Its earnings were partially impacted by $281 million of pretax expense related to COVID-19 premium wages and sanitation costs. Costco also took a $36 million pretax charge to prepay $1.5 billion of debt.

For the full year, Costco’s net income hit the $4 billion mark for the first time, or $9.02 per diluted share, compared to $3.66 billion, or $8.26 per diluted share in the prior year or $9.02 per diluted share, compared to $3.66 billion, or $8.26 per diluted share in the prior year. Net sales for the fiscal year increased 9.3% to $163.22 billion.

Costco currently operates 795 warehouses, including 552 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 101 in Canada, 39 in Mexico, 29 in the United Kingdom, 27 in Japan, 16 in Korea, 13 in Taiwan, 12 in Australia, three in Spain, and one each in Iceland, France, and China. Costco also operates e-commerce sites in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Australia.