When discussing the competitive landscape in the retail industry, the first question that comes to mind is how is "XYZ" retailer doing compared to Amazon.com (AMZN 1161.27). In the case of Costco (COST 181.40, +3.87, +2.2%), the answer is just fine.
After yesterday's close, Costco reported its sales results for November. They were impressive on a number of fronts.
First, net sales increased 13.2% to $11.26 billion and total company comparable sales jumped 10.8%. Excluding changes in gasoline prices and foreign exchange, total company comparable sales rose 7.9% on top of a 2% increase in the same period a year ago.
For the fiscal first quarter overall, net sales increased 13.3% to $31.13 billion while total company comparable sales increased 10.5%. Excluding changes in gasoline prices and foreign exchange, total company comparable sales increased 7.9% versus 2.0% last year.
A key difference between this year and last year is that pre-Thanksgiving and Black Friday/holiday weekend sales fell into this year's first quarter, which also had one less sales day than the same period a year ago. Costco said the calendar shift had an estimated net benefit of approximately 1.5% in the U.S., and slightly less worldwide.
In other words, if you strip out the holiday-related sales results, Costco still managed to deliver some impressive sales growth, demonstrating that it is faring well in the face of competition from rivals like Walmart's Sam's Club (WMT 97.56), Target (TGT 61.68), and Amazon.com, which is aiming to step on some market-share toes with its Whole Foods acquisition.
It is also worth noting that Costco's e-commerce sales surged 39.0% in November and 43.6% for the fiscal first quarter, demonstrating that it has become a more relevant online option for its customer base.
Like many other retail stocks of late, shares of COST have gotten a hefty boost, up 15% since October 9. They are indicated 2.2% higher in the wake of the November sales update, which was a fine update for the convincing reason that it shows this particular company hasn't lost the sales battle, or the war, with Amazon.com.