business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that membership warehouse stores are growing at a faster pace than either the department store or the discount store sector, averaging 8.6 percent monthly sales increases this year.

The growth, the WSJ reasons, comes because the $88 billion wholesale club sector is perceived as being a source of inexpensive merchandise, often 40 percent cheaper than in mainstream stores.

Reflecting some of the information that MNB reported on last week from the annual Portland State University Food Industry Leadership Conference (FILC), the WSJ notes that the major club store chains have carved out unique niches – Costco focuses on creating a “treasure hunt” atmosphere for consumers, Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club targets small businesses, and BJ’s is moving toward creating a highly grocery-focused experience, as well as testing two Pro Foods Restaurant Supply units that will aim to attract professional food services and small-restaurant operators.
KC's View:
We always think that the interesting thing about this sector is the fact that the three major players have been so distinctive in their approaches…there’s no “me too” attitude here.

That’s a philosophy that more retailers ought to adopt. Find the unique strength, and then exploit it relentlessly. Don’t be afraid to be different…in fact, luxuriate in your differences.

By the way, Costco said yesterday that while next year it plans to open one store in Taiwan, one in Japan and two in Britain, it does not plan to open a unit in Australia or New Zealand – for at least a year.