BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Discount retailers yesterday said they received a boost last month from consumers spending their economic stimulus checks. Wal-Mart Stores here posted a 5.8% gain in U.S. comparable-store sales, excluding fuel, for the five-week span ending July 4. “The economic stimulus checks were a positive factor in Wal-Mart U.S.’s higher traffic,” the company said in a recorded call. The company raised its profit guidance for the second fiscal quarter based on the strong sales, to a range of 82 cents to 84 cents per share, up from the previous guidance of 78 cents to 81 cents. Matthews, N.C.-based Family Dollar Stores, which operates 6,562 discount stores in 44 states, also cited benefits from the economic stimulus checks in reporting comparable-stores sales gains of 8% for the five-week span that ended July 5. Natick, Mass.-based BJ’s Wholesale Club posted comparable-store sales gains of 8.3%, excluding gas, which added another 8.2%. BJ’s said food sales increased by 11% in the five-week period that ended July 5, driven by perishables. Costco also cited food sales in reporting comps of 5% for the five weeks that ended July 6 at U.S. stores, excluding gasoline, which added another 4%. The Issaquah-Wash.-based club-store operator said food sales rose in the “high single digits” for the period, which it attributed in part to price inflation.
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