ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Costco Wholesale Corp. here said yesterday that inflation in gasoline prices helped increase comparable-store sales in the U.S. by 6% during the third quarter ended May 11 — a figure that would have been up only 4% without the boost provided by fuel. The company said the average price per gallon of gasoline rose 20% since last year’s third quarter. Richard Galanti, executive vice president and chief financial officer, told analysts during a conference call that roughly 30% of members who come to Costco for gas also go into the warehouses, “though it’s not clear whether they were planning to go in anyway.” Net income rose 31.7% to $295.1 million for the 12-week quarter and 24.7% to $885 million for the year to date. Sales increased 13.3% to $16.6 billion for the quarter and 12.4% to $49.4 billion for the 36-week period.
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