Costco is bucking the retail blues today with an earnings report of 8 percent year-on-year sales growth, including a 5 percent increase in same-store sales. They also had what looks like a really big increase in total membership fees, from $459 million in this quarter last year to $528 million in the most recent quarter.
For comparison's sake, Wal-Mart's up 1.2 percent and Target's up 0.4 percent during the same period. JC Penney is totally collapsing. It's a little difficult to know what to attribute this to, since Coscto's profile—it's a discount store, but one serving a relatively upscale demographic—is a bit ambiguous. But their success really is noteworthy since the brick-and-mortar retailing sector is in a state of overall slump apart from the ups and downs of economic fluctuations.
Liberals tend to like Costco since it's a relatively high-wage employer for the retail sector, and thus a vocal supporter of minimum wage hikes that would create problems for lower-paying competitors, so the ongoing expansion of the store is probably good news for lower-skilled workers.