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Originally published April 10, 2014 at 1:02 PM | Page modified April 11, 2014 at 6:50 AM

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Costco’s March sales rise, topping Wall Street forecast

Sales at Costco stores open at least a year rose 5 percent in March compared with the previous year. Analysts expected a 3.3 percent bump, according to Bloomberg.


Seattle Times business reporter

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A higher-than-expected bump in Costco Wholesale’s March sales helped the retail club’s shares weather a stormy day in the stock market.

Sales at Costco stores open at least a year rose 5 percent in March compared with the previous year, the Issaquah-based company said Thursday morning.

Analysts expected a 3.3 percent bump, according to Bloomberg. Costco was helped by the fact that this year the five-week period ending April 6 had an extra day of sales because Easter, a day when the company closes its stores, came later this year. That extra day yielded a 1 to 1.5 percentage point bump in sales, the company said.

But strong sales in the Midwest and the Southeast, as well as strong performance in Japan, Korea, Mexico and Canada also helped.

In the United States, sales grew 6 percent. Sales from international operations grew 4 percent. But when measured in local currency, those sales grew 9 percent.

Costco’s assistant vice president for investor relations, Jeff Elliott, said a big boost came from increased consumer demand in Japan, as residents tried to get ahead of a 3 percentage-point bump in that country’s national sales tax.

Costco shares were down half a percentage point at $112.48, even as the New York Stock Exchange dropped 1.17 percent to 16,246.

Costco’s net sales for the month amounted to $10.43 billion, up 8 percent from last year. So-called “comparable sales,” which exclude revenue from recently opened stores, help analysts and investors measure a retailer’s growth.

The good performance marks a welcome change for the company from a challenging second fiscal quarter, in which income fell 15 percent and missed Wall Street estimates.

Ángel González: 206-464-2250 or agonzalez@seattletimes.com. On Twitter: @gonzalezseattle



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