April 11 (Reuters) - Warehouse club chain Costco Wholesale Corp reported a 4 percent rise in March sales at stores open at least a year, missing analysts' expectations, due to lower fuel prices and a strong dollar, which hurt the value of its sales overseas.
Costco, which sells everything from potato chips to artificial grass, also has gas stations at its giant stores.
Analysts were expecting sales to rise 5.2 percent, including the effects of fuel and foreign exchange, according to Thomson Reuters Data.
Average gasoline selling prices for the month were $3.71 per gallon this year, compared with $3.93 a year earlier, David Sherwood, Costco's director of finance and investor relations, said.
Net sales at Costco rose 7 percent to $9.67 billion for the five-week period ended April 7.
Costco is the largest U.S. warehouse club chain and competes with privately held BJ's Wholesale and Wal-Mart Stores Inc's Sam's Club.
The Issaquah, Washington-based company has 626 warehouse stores around the world, including 449 in the United States and Puerto Rico. It plans to open up to ten stores before Sept 1.