Pandemic Boom Still Booming at Costco

Other food retailers may be lapping the impacts of pandemic sales gains from last year into negative comps, but Costco Wholesale is seeing no such slowdown.

The retailer reported third quarter earnings late on Thursday that continue to not just impress but astonish. Even as the grocery boom levels off at most other food retailers, Costco’s momentum is going in the opposite direction: that is, up.

For the third quarter ended May 9, Costco said net sales increased 21.7% to $44.38 billion, from $36.45 billion last year. Same-store sales, excluding the impacts of fuel and currency fluctuations, shot up 15.2% in the U.S., more than the retailer’s comp of 12.6% in the previous quarter. E-commerce was also up, 38.2%, although digital sales were down from the 80.3% increase in Q2.

Net income for the third quarter was $1,220 million, or $2.75 per diluted share, which included $57 million pretax, or 9 cents per diluted share, in COVID-19 related costs, primarily from $2 per hour premium pay. Last year’s third quarter net income was $838 million, or $1.89 per diluted share, inclusive of $283 million pretax, or 47 cents per diluted share of COVID related costs. 

Membership fees increased 11% year over year to $901 million.

Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco operates 809 warehouses worldwide. The company, which is No. 4 on Progressive Grocer’s 2021 PG 100 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, also has e-commerce sites in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Korea and Taiwan.