Many of us believe it would be good to be a discount retailer right now, but Costco's (NASDAQ:COST) rather disappointing third-quarter results show it's a tough time to draw shoppers, even when you're offering good deals.

Third-quarter net income fell 29% to $209.6 million, or $0.48 per share. Revenue decreased 5% to $15.48 billion, and same-store sales also fell 7%. (If you strip out gasoline and currency exchange, comps increased by 2%).

Several elements dragged down Costco's quarterly profit. These included a $34 million (mostly) non-cash charge related to a legal settlement, higher costs for employees' health-care benefits, the stronger dollar, and lagging sales of pricier discretionary items.

That last point is likely one most of us expected; it makes sense that shoppers would be more interested in bulk food and other necessities rather than luxury items such as flat-screen TVs.

Costco's not exactly alone, though. There haven't really been too many retail outliers in the most recent quarterly tidings; many retailers have reported down profits and lagging sales (although Costco didn't beat analysts' expectations, which many retailers, such as American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO), have managed to do recently). Still, for the most part, the financial results have reflected consumers' reluctance to spend, even if "beating expectations" was enough to excite many investors.

Target's (NYSE:TGT) most recent quarter was lackluster, and Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) may be holding its own in profits, but it still reported a drop in sales in its latest quarter. (Note that another discounter, Big Lots (NYSE:BIG), reported today that it did manage to increase its quarterly profit, but that was mostly because of cost cutting, since its sales fell 1%.)

I can't say it was a great quarter for Costco by any stretch, but I continue to think Costco is one of the best companies -- and stocks -- out there. It's a well-run retailer that attracts many customer demographics, including more well-heeled patrons (and some customers are hard-core fans). Higher costs for health-care benefits may sound like a drag, but really, that just outlines another attractive factor: It's a retailer that treats its employees well, and that's a long-term positive when it comes to having a loyal workforce. Indeed, CEO Jim Sinegal is one of the most Foolish CEOs around, and I have always gotten the impression Costco's management doesn't sweat the short-term stuff, but thinks long-term.

Costco's share price is down 32.7% in the past 12 months, presenting a great opportunity to stock up on the shares of this high-quality company.

For related Foolishness:

Costco is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Costco and Wal-Mart are Inside Value recommendations. The Fool owns shares of Costco. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.