The holiday season got off to a solid start at Costco in November, as same-store sales at the retailer’s U.S. clubs advanced 6%, excluding the favorable effect of higher year-over-year gas prices. The gain was driven by healthy growth in customer traffic and high single digit comps in food categories, which benefitted from inflation of about 1.5%. Offsetting strength in those areas, were flat sales in the hardlines category and a decline in the electronics areas where falling prices continue to impact overall results even though unit sales remained constant with the prior year.
If gas prices are factored into the U.S. same-store sales equation then comps increased by 7%, as Costco reported its average price per gallon in November was $2.85 versus $2.59 last year. Total company same-store sales, including the favorable effects of gasoline prices and currency exchange rates, increased 9%, while total sales for the period increased 12% to nearly $6.8 billion.
Costco ended the month with a total of 582 warehouse clubs, including 425 units in the United States and is due to report results for its first quarter ended Nov. 21 next week on Dec. 8.