EDISON, NJ–The BJ’s Wholesale Club on Route 1 in Edison Woods Shopping Center said, on April 3, they were only open about five minutes when “a blackout,” occurred just after the usual opening time of 9:00 a.m.

Traffic on Route 1 South in Edison, not far from Old Post Road, became a mess due to high winds, which knocked down utility poles, affecting traffic signals in the area.

The warehouse club re-opened by early evening at 5:30, but only remained opened until 8:00 p.m., its usual Sunday closing time. However, many members were hoping the store might stay opened later into the evening to make up for being closed more than eight hours.

Meanwhile, many of them drove down to the North Brunswick club, which is on Route 1 South. That club was much busier than normal for a Sunday, creating longer wait times at check-out. It is the newer of the two clubs and doesn’t do as much sales volume as the busier Edison location.

The regular hours at the two stores are the same on a Sunday: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. But during the week they are both opened two additional hours, until 10 p.m. 

BJ’s, a Massachusetts-based company had 210 stores in 2014, and was ranked number 93 on the National Retail Federation’s (NRF’s) “Hot 100 Chart,” last year.

Rival Costco Wholesale, the leader in the warehouse club category, had more than double the amount of stores, 464, and ranked two places above BJ’s at number 91.

But only 71.5% of Costco’s sales came from stores in the U.S., whereas for BJ’s all of its 2014 sales of $13.8 billion represents U.S. stores, because it doesn’t have any stores that are not in the U.S.

Costco has a location in South Edison at 205 Vineyard Road. It is next door to the Walmart Supercenter which also sells food (Wal-Mart Inc. is the second largest U.S. grocer, after Kroeger).

There is also a new Costco in North Brunswick, on Route 1 North, only a few football fields or more from the site where a developer has promised to build a new Northeast Corridor train station.  Costco brought in nearly $79.7 billion at its U.S. stores in 2014, according to the NRF. 

Sam’s Club, another player in the wholesale membership-club category, which is owned by Wal-Mart Inc., also has a location in Edison on Route 1 South, about a half-a-mile south of the Edison BJ’s.

Sam’s Club has a separate gas station on site, just off the highway. Costco also has gas stations at both locations. Purchasing gas at these stations does not require a club membership at any time. 

Consumers are spending on experiences, such as dining out, going to sporting events, theme parks, and traveling, rather than on retail goods, according to reports. 

“The biggest thing is this ‘experiential spending,’ we’ve never seen higher airlines spend in our spending culture across history. We’ve never seen higher lodging spend; and restaurants grew at 7.8% year-over-year in February,” said Sarah Quinlan, Senior Vice President of Market Insights for MasterCard Advisors. 

The jobs report on April 1 was good, the number of people working climbed a bit, while wages picked up in March – signs of “Labor Market Durability.” And the labor force participation rate was up slightly. But automobile sales slowed down some, and clothing sales remained weak.

Business Reporter at New Brunswick Today | dschatz@nb.today

Dave is an award-winning business reporter who has authored over 200 articles for New Brunswick Today.

Dave is an award-winning business reporter who has authored over 200 articles for New Brunswick Today.