Members shopped Sam’s Club more often and spent more on each trip during the fourth quarter, propelling Sam’s to a 2.7% same-store sales increase, while operating profits were flat. The forecast for the first quarter calls for same-store sales to increase between 1% and 3%.
Sales for the quarter increased 4.4% to $13.1 billion and were aided greatly by increased fuel costs, which added $1.2 billion to quarterly sales. For the year, Sam’s total sales increased 3.5% to nearly $50 billion. The impact of higher gasoline prices was also evident in same-store sales, as comps were 4.5% if the beneficial effect of higher year-over-year gas prices was included. The sales growth did not translate to higher operating profits however, as the $487 million in operating income reported for the period was slightly higher than the prior year’s fourth quarter, and membership income was flat.
Sam’s Club president and CEO Brian Cornell characterized the division’s performance as strong and said he was very pleased with the results.
For the year, Sam’s sales excluding fuel increased 1.4% to $45.2 billion and operating profits increased 1.3% to $1.7 billion.
Sam’s experienced minimal expansion last year with just four new clubs opened, but 65 clubs were remodeled. A similar number of remodels are planned for this year but the number of new clubs will increased to a range of between seven and 12 units.