Costco may be grappling with lower gas prices that are eating into its sales growth, but the bulk retailer still outperforms Sam’s Club every quarter, and the company posted record sales in 2016. Costco benefits from having stores in more affluent areas than Sam’s does. It also invests heavily in improvements: it spent $2.65 billion to open 33 warehouses (it now runs 715), expand its distribution and transportation systems, remodel facilities; and upgrade its IT infrastructure. One soft spot? E-commerce. Costco has lagged rivals in terms of offering online services; it now operates digital stores in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Mexico, Korea, and Taiwan. Costco was founded in 1976 and is based in Issaquah, Wash.
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