BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. (BJ), a leading warehouse club operator in the United States, recently reported sales for the four-week period ended August 29, 2009. The sales for the month declined 1.9% to $757.6 million from $772.6 million reported in the same month last year.

Comparable club sales fell 6.0% for the month of August versus an increase of 15.4% in the same month last year, hurt by lower gasoline prices and volumes compared to the prior year. BJ’s Wholesale Club currently operates 184 wholesale clubs and 103 gasoline stations in 15 states.

Gasoline sales for the month of August dipped 8.2% compared to a 7.7% rise in sales last year. Excluding gasoline, merchandise comparable club sales climbed 2.2% versus an increase of 7.7% last year. Merchandise comparable club sales increased in the first three weeks but slid in the fourth week.

Excluding gasoline sales, traffic rose by nearly 4% in the month, whereas the average transaction amount dropped by approximately 2%.

Heavy job losses and the economic slowdown have metamorphosed the way consumers shop. Cash-strapped consumers are now prioritizing their purchases. BJ’s Wholesale Club experienced a 4% rise in sales of food, reflecting a price decline in various perishables, which include eggs, fresh meat, milk and dairy products.

By categories – breakfast needs, computer equipment, frozen, household chemicals, housewares, paper products, prepared foods, produce and small appliances, etc. reported robust sales. On the other side, electronics, apparel, meat, milk, jewelry, pre-recorded media, storage, sporting goods, televisions and tires reported sluggish sales.
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