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    BJ's Food Sales Up in January

    NATICK, Mass. -- Thanks in part to higher food sales, BJ's Wholesale Club, Inc. said yesterday that its January 2006 sales rose 5.6 percent to $524 million, compared with $496 million last year. Comparable-club sales grew 2.0 percent for the month, including a contribution of 2.1 percent from gas sales.

    NATICK, Mass. -- Thanks in part to higher food sales, BJ's Wholesale Club, Inc. said yesterday that its January 2006 sales rose 5.6 percent to $524 million, compared with $496 million last year. Comparable-club sales grew 2.0 percent for the month, including a contribution of 2.1 percent from gas sales.

    In the year-ago period the chain posted comparable-club sales growth of 1.9 percent, including a contribution of 0.3 percent from gas sales.

    For the fourth quarter of 2005, sales increased 5.0 percent to $2.1 billion and comparable-club sales rose 1.7 percent, including a contribution from gas sales of 1.0 percent. For the full year ended Jan. 28, 2006, sales went up 7.8 percent to $7.8 billion and comparable-club sales increased 3.6 percent, including a contribution from gas sales of 1.3 percent.

    According to BJ's, on a comparable-club basis, January 2006 sales were highest in the fourth week, mainly because of a heavy snow storm in the year-ago period that affected more than half the chain's stores and had a negative impact on sales. By major region, comparable-club sales were best in upstate New York and New England, the company noted, adding that excluding gas sales, the average transaction amount for the month of January increased about 2 percent, while and traffic declined about 2 percent.

    On a comparable-club basis, food sales grew about 2 percent and general merchandise sales slipped about 3 percent, BJ's said. Among the categories with solid comparable-club sales increases were beauty care, health and beauty aids, housewares, paper products, produce, soda and water, televisions, and toys, while such categories as apparel, best seller books, computer equipment, DVDs, jewelry, and small appliances turned in weaker performances. Additionally, sales of snow throwers, shovels, ice melt, and snow tires were way down as a result of milder weather compared with that of last January.

    BJ's opened four new clubs in January, one of them a relocation. The retailer currently operates 163 BJ's clubs and two ProFoods Restaurant supply clubs.

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