Sam's Club CEO says seeing some sales weakness from U.S.furlough

Reuters

By Jessica Wohl

ROMEOVILLE, Ill., Oct 3 (Reuters) - Sam's Club, thewarehouse club chain owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc, isseeing some softness in sales due to the furlough of federalgovernment employees, though sales in stores near military basescould rise if military commissaries remain closed, ChiefExecutive Rosalind Brewer said on Thursday.

Even before the U.S. government shutdown began on Tuesday,some Sam's Club locations saw a slowdown during the weekend, aspeople in the military and civilians in government officesprepared for the possibility of a U.S. shutdown, Brewer said.

"What we're really concerned about right now is what'shappening with the furloughs. We're actually seeing a little bitof softness from the government layoffs," Brewer told Reuters asshe visited a new Sam's Club location in Romeoville, Illinois.

"In a few clubs it was significant," Brewer said of the dropin business, without giving details on the sales impact or thelocations of all of the impacted clubs. She said that Sam's Clubinitially saw business slow down in the Washington, D.C., andVirginia area.

Sam's Club and other stores located near military basescould see a lift in business as military personnel, retirees andtheir families who normally patronize commissaries must goelsewhere while the commissaries are closed.

Dozens of commissaries on military bases in the UnitedStates, where many military families shop for food and otherbasic goods at a discount, are now closed.

Sam's Club is offering military families and retirees freeaccess to its stores while the military commissaries remainclosed. Typically, members pay an annual fee of $45 or $100 toshop at Sam's Club, which sells everything from food tofurniture and had $56.42 billion in revenue last year.

Representatives for the No. 1 warehouse chain, CostcoWholesale Corp, and the smaller, privately held BJ'sWholesale Club Inc could not be immediately reached for comment.

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