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    BJ's Sees Double-digit Sales Surge in April

    Food sales increased a hefty 16 percent during the month, the wholesale club chain said.

    :Helped considerably by burgeoning food sales, BJ's Wholesale Club, Inc. yesterday posted April 2008 sales of $744.5 million, a 20.4 increase from the $618.5 million reported in April 2007. Comparable-club sales grew 17.8 percent for April 2008, including a contribution of 5.5 percent from gas sales.

    Due to the timing of the Easter holiday, the April 2008 sales period consisted of 28 days this year, compared with 27 in 2007. The extra day had a positive impact on comparable club sales of about 4 percent, according to the company.

    For the first quarter of 2008, net sales rose 12.3 percent to $2.26 billion, from $2.01 billion for the year-ago period. Comparable-club sales went up 9.6 percent for the first quarter of 2008, including a contribution from gas sales of 3.9 percent.

    A substantial sales increase in the fourth week of April 2008 was due to strength in perishable foods, HBC products, and consumer packaged goods, the company said, adding that food sales rose about 16 percent and general merchandise sales about 7 percent during the month.

    Departments with the strongest sales growth over last year included bakery, candy, coffee, dairy, health and beauty, household chemicals, juices, fresh meat, frozen, lawn and garden, oils and shortenings, pet foods, prepared foods, produce, paper goods, toys, and trash bags and wraps. Among the departments that turned in a weaker performance vs. last year were cigarettes, prerecorded video, residential furniture, and tires.

    BJ's operates 177 clubs in 16 states.

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