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Discounters and warehouse clubs beat expectations in November

NEW YORK The nation’s discount retailers and warehouse club operators posted strong sales in November, beating analysts’ expectations. The results were fueled by promotions and cold weather in some parts of the country, as well as strong Black Friday traffic.

Target Corp. said Thursday more shoppers came to its stores in November and spent more than a year earlier, helping to fuel a 5.5% rise in same-store sales during the month. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, on average, expected a 3.7% gain.

Total sales for the four weeks ended Nov. 27 rose 6% to $6 billion. So far this year, Target's same-store sales increased 2.4%. Total revenue rose 4% to $51.52 billion.

CEO Gregg Steinhafel said customers were responding to the company's holiday merchandise and discounts, including a 5% discount it is offering all users of its Target cards.

Costco said Thursday that its November same-store sales surged 9%, helped by the weaker dollar and higher gas prices, better than 6.2% analysts had forecast. Sales were up 7% in its U.S. stores and 13% in its international stores.

Excluding the effect of higher gas prices and the weaker dollar, revenue in stores open at least a year rose 6%.

Food, housewares, jewelry and clothing sold well, electronics less so. Revenue from TVs fell even as Costco sold more TVs, because prices have fallen.

At BJ's Wholesale Club, November same-store sales were up 5%, with both food and general merchandise sales climbing. Its results topped the 3.9% rise that analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected.

The warehouse club operator said its results included 1.2% from gasoline sales. Removing gas sales, the metric rose 3.8%.  BJ's said all major regions reported revenue increases at clubs open at least a year, with the strongest gains in the Southeast. Food sales increased about 4% in November, with general merchandise sales up about 3%.

TJX Cos. said Thursday its November same-store sales rose by 3%. Wall Street analysts had expected the company’s same-store sales to increase by 2.9%,

Ross Stores reported a 6% same-stores gain in November.

Michael Balmuth, CEO, commented, "November sales were better than expected as we benefited from a continued focus on value by consumers that drove healthy traffic to our stores. Merchandise and geographic trends were relatively broad-based. Juniors and Shoes were the strongest merchandise categories, while Florida and Texas were the top performing markets."

Duckwall-Alco Stores said Thursday that November revenue at its stores open at least a year rose 5.8%, buoyed by strong sales of clothing and electronics.