Costco Sales Down, But Mainly Because of Gas and Currency Exchange Rates

Well, the headlines today are that Costco had a bad December, with same-store sales down 4% and overall sales down 2%, but Costco also pointed out that without the impact of lower gas prices, the same store sales would’ve been up 2% and without the stronger U.S. dollar international sales would’ve been up 9% (so sales would’ve been up 4% overall).

Of course you can’t use those things as excuses, but to me it shows that Costco is still running a very profitable operation and is growing its business.  The parts that are weighing it down are things Costco can’t control (gas prices and foreign currency exchange rates), but the underlying business is doing well, even in a recession.

Judge for yourself:

ISSAQUAH, WA–(MARKET WIRE)–Jan 8, 2009 — Costco Wholesale Corporation (“Costco”) (NasdaqGS:COSTNews) today reported net sales of $7.40 billion for the month of December, the five weeks ended January 4, 2009, a decrease of two percent from $7.55 billion in the same five-week period last year.

For the first eighteen weeks of its reporting period ended January 4, 2009, the Company reported net sales of $24.92 billion, an increase of two percent from $24.53 billion during the similar period last year.

Comparable sales for the five-week and eighteen-week periods ended January 4, 2009, were as follows:

 
                                           5 Weeks        18 Weeks
                                          ---------      ---------
            U.S.                             -2%            +1%
            International                   -11%            -8%

            Total Company                    -4%            -1%
                                          =========      =========

Comparable sales for the five-week and eighteen-week periods, excluding the negative impacts from gasoline deflation and foreign exchange (primarily in CN, UK and Korea), were as follows:

 
                                           5 Weeks        18 Weeks
                                          ---------      ---------
            U.S. (w/o gas deflation)         +2%            +3%
            International (w/o Fx)           +9%            +8%

            Total                            +4%            +4%
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