A strong increase in shopper traffic at Costco during November translated to a 3% increase in same-store sales, excluding gas, at U.S. locations during the four-week November reporting period which ended December 1.
BJ’s Wholesale Club this week formally announced that it planned to explore strategic alternatives and confirmed what had been speculated about in the market place for at least four years. The possible sale of BJ’s and its 189 clubs isn’t likely to have a meaningful impact on the marketplace and could potentially benefit the likes of Sam’s Club and Costco. Assuming a deal involving a private equity buyer, they typically are not keen on injecting millions in fresh capital to open new stores and generally look for ways to enhance the cash generating capabilities of existing operations. Look no further than the situation with Sears Holding and try to recall the last time a new Sears or Kmart store opened. Should BJ’s go the private equity route it is conceivable there could be a further streamlining of the store base and less aggressive pricing as margin preservation becomes more of a priority than fighting a losing price battle with Sam’s and Costco.
The New Year is off to a busy start at BJ’s Wholesale Club. Amid ongoing speculation about the retailer being a potential takeover target, BJ’s on Wednesday announced the closure of five clubs, several senior level personnel changes and released its December sales a day earlier than normal.