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    Jan., Q4, and Yearly Food Sales All Up at BJ's Wholesale Club

    NATICK, Mass. -- Food sales continue to grow at BJ's Wholesale Club, Inc., which said yesterday that total sales for the month of January 2007 grew 8.5 percent, to $724.2 million, from $667.7 million in the year-ago period. On a comparable-club basis, January sales went up 3.5 percent, including a contribution from sales of gasoline of about 0.3 percent.

    NATICK, Mass. -- Food sales continue to grow at BJ's Wholesale Club, Inc., which said yesterday that total sales for the month of January 2007 grew 8.5 percent, to $724.2 million, from $667.7 million in the year-ago period. On a comparable-club basis, January sales went up 3.5 percent, including a contribution from sales of gasoline of about 0.3 percent.

    Last year the company experienced a comparable-club sales gain of 2.0 percent, including a contribution from gas sales of 2.1 percent.

    For the fourth quarter of 2006, total sales increased 6.0 percent, to $2.4 billion, and comparable-club sales rose 1.5 percent, including a contribution from sales of gas of 0.2 percent. For the 53-week year ended Feb. 3, 2007, total sales grew 5.2 percent, to $8.3 billion, and comparable-club sales edged up 1.2 percent, including a contribution from gas sales of 0.7 percent.

    "The strong sales of food in January were driven by produce, soda, water, and paper products," BJ's v.p. investor relations Cathy Maloney told Progressive Grocer. "These departments were also strong throughout the year. Other departments with large comp sales increases for fourth quarter and the year included plastic bags, wraps & foils, baking, deli, and prepared foods."

    January 2007 food sales increased about 4 percent, while general merchandise sales rose about 3 percent, spurred by more markdowns than last year, especially in apparel, furniture, and televisions. Additionally, sales of food grew approximately 3 percent for the fourth quarter and approximately 2 percent for the year. General merchandise sales declined about 1 percent for both the fourth quarter and the year, however.

    "Weakness in comp sales of general merchandise for the fourth quarter and the year reflected lower sales of apparel, jewelry, toys, tires, giftware, pre-recorded video & DVD, and furniture," explained Maloney.

    Since the retailer said last month it would close its two ProFoods Restaurant Supply locations, both of them in the metropolitan New York area, results for those two stores, now considered discontinued operations, were omitted from BJ's sales results for all periods presented.

    BJ's operates 172 BJ's Wholesale clubs and 96 gasoline stations in 16 states.
    -- Bridget Goldschmidt

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