Costco sales rise as inflation continues to weigh on consumers

Costco sales rise as inflation continues to weigh on consumers

Costco COST -1.20%

Wholesale Corp. posted higher sales in its most recent quarter, the latest sign that the warehouse retailer remains a haven for consumers facing persistent inflation.

The Issaquah, Wash.-based company’s revenue rose 15% to $72.09 billion in the fourth quarter. The average estimate of analysts polled by FactSet was $72.04 billion.

Comparable sales, which represent those from stores and digital channels operating for at least 12 months, rose nearly 14% in the quarter compared to the same period last year. E-commerce sales rose 7.1% over the same period.

Costco, which specializes in selling bulk goods at a discount to paying members, benefited greatly during the Covid-19 pandemic as consumers bought in bulk to cut back on trips to the countryside and demand was boosted by government incentives .

The company has remained a popular destination as inflation has limited consumers’ spending power. The consumer price index, which measures what consumers pay for goods and services, rose 8.3% in August compared to the same period last year. The food index rose 11.4 percent last year, the biggest 12-month increase since May 1979, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said earlier this month.

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Costco posted net income of $1.87 billion, or $4.20 per share, for the quarter ended Aug. 28, up from net income of $1.67 billion, or $3.76 per share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected $4.19 per share.

Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said the company has no specific plans to increase membership fees at this time, but noted that it will happen at some point. “We still have that arrow in our quiver as we go forward,” Mr. Galanti said.

The decision contrasts with Walmart Inc

move in August to raise membership prices at the Sam’s Club chain to $50 from $45 for its basic offer and to $110 from $100 for its premium offer. The price increase is the chain’s first in nine years for the basic subscription and the first for the premium offering since it debuted in 1999.

“We are mindful of the economic pressure on wallets right now,” Sam’s Club CEO Kathryn McLay said at the time.

Costco shares fell 2.6% in after-hours trading. The stock closed Thursday at $487.17, down 1.2%.

Costco is one of the largest and most successful retailers in the country. In this video, WSJ’s Sarah Nassauer breaks down the wholesaler’s unique approach to doing business. Photo: Qian Weizhong/Zuma Press

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