Costco Wholesale

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You might not be able to buy swordfish at your local Costco — the wholesaler dropped a dozen “at risk” fish from its outlets in March — but you can buy nearly 4,000 other items, all at sharply reduced prices.Costco shoppers lately have been in a veritable feeding frenzy (food and sundries account for 44% of sales), driving a jump in sales and profits last year. CEO James Sinegal credits the robust results to Costco’s “pricing authority,” which consistently provides the most competitive values. The proof in his private-label pudding: 88% of Costco’s customers renew their annual memberships. —P.N.

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