BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores here said yesterday that food products related to entertaining and baking “performed well” during the holiday season, contributing to the company’s 2.4% comparable-store sales increase, excluding fuel, for the five weeks that ended Jan. 4. Total company sales for the period were up 8.4% over year-ago levels, including 5.6% at Wal-Mart U.S., 4.3% at Sam’s Club and 18.2% in the international division. Costco, Issaquah, Wash., posted 7% comparable-stores sales gains, and said in a conference call that within food and sundries, it “saw strength in deli, cooler, candy and foods” and “somewhat softer negative comp sales” in tobacco. Fresh foods were strongest in produce and service deli, although it also had “a pretty good month in meat,” the company said. BJ’s Wholesale, based in Natick, Mass., posted 3% comps for December. Target Corp., Minneapolis, reported same-store sales gains of 0.6% for the five weeks that ended Jan. 5. The company said in a prerecorded call that a decline in traffic was to blame.
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