Shares of Costco Wholesale Corp.
fell in after-hours trading Wednesday after the membership warehouse retailer reported its first monthly same-store sales drop in nearly three years.
The chain said that overall same-store sales fell 1.1% last month. The last time those sales fell was in April 2020.
said U.S. same-store sales fell 1.5% in March, with a 2.4% decrease in Canada. Elsewhere internationally, those sales rose 2%. E-commerce comparable sales slid 12.7%.
Shares fell 2% after hours on Wednesday.
Josh Dahmen, Costco’s assistant vice president of finance and investor relations, said in recorded remarks Wednesday that falling gas prices and foreign exchange weighed on results. He also noted that “year-over-year inflation for food and sundries and fresh foods were both down from February.”
Costco reported the monthly results after higher food prices last year helped buoy grocery stores’ sales and profits. Executives have expressed confidence that they can keep charging customers at elevated prices, since groceries fall under the category of essential goods. Central bank policymakers, however, have tried to find ways to tame companies’ pricing power.
Home furnishings and toys — which have been underperformers at other retailers as inflation re-prioritizes spending around essentials — were also among the underperformers at Costco in March. Demand for jewelry also lagged.
However, health and beauty products, where demand has generally held up despite inflation, fared better. So did apparel, which, at retailers elsewhere, has seen aggressive markdowns.
Customers initially raided Costco shelves amid pandemic-related lockdowns in 2020. But later, service restrictions in some store sections, lighter gasoline demand and COVID-19-related costs weighed on results.
Shares of Costco have fallen 13.6% over the past 12 months. By comparison, S&P 500 Index
is down 9.6% over that period.