How to tell if a Costco membership is worth it for you

Costco shoppers
Costco has some great deals, but a membership might not be worth it for everyone.

  • A Costco membership can give you access to a bevy of deals and perks, from gas to cheap alcohol.
  • But some potential pitfalls, like impulse shopping and food waste, can drain your wallet instead of saving you money.
  • Here’s how to determine whether a Costco membership is worth it for you.

Costco has a reputation as a paradise for thrifty and bulk-size shoppers, but having a Costco card won’t pay off for every person.

Though the cheap gas, booze, and deals on bulk items can seem promising, if you’re prone to impulse shopping and wasting food, for example, a membership might not be worth it for you.

Here’s how to tell if you should get a Costco membership.

What are the different types of Costco memberships?

The Gold Star membership is $60 a year, and the Gold Star Executive membership is $120 a year, which includes an annual 2% reward on Costco purchases and cheaper car rentals and hotel stays through Costco Travel.

You can buy from Costco online without a membership, but members get 5% off each purchase. So if you spend over $1,200 on without a membership, you’re losing money.

What are the pros of a Costco membership?

Costco can be a one-stop shop for errands, since members can access the store’s gas station, food court, optical department, and pharmacy, on top of the huge variety of goods offered in the store. Aine Cain, a senior retail reporter at Insider who goes to Costco at least twice a month, makes use of all the stores services – especially the gas, which she said is cheaper than other gas stations near her.

The store’s bundling of different services into one also made it an attractive destination for consumers looking to cut down on shopping trips during the pandemic.

The store also has unique items that shoppers aren’t able to find elsewhere.

“For a while, we were grabbing box after box of Mexican Cokes,” Cain said. “We were walking out with cart-loads of Mexican Cokes. We looked unwell, but we didn’t care, because the product is terrific.”

Though that product has since disappeared, her other Costco favorites are Kirkland-brand seltzer water, clothes, and decaf coffee.

The store can also be a good deal for people who split their memberships with others or have large households.

Mary Meisenzahl, a retail reporter with Insider who splits Costco purchases between herself, her boyfriend, and her parents, buys bulk-sizes of frequently used items, like oat milk and dog treats.

When a Costco membership might not be worth it for you

Costco is known for bulk sizes, which translate to higher prices, so you can rack up a long and pricey receipt if you have a tendency to impulse shop.

“We usually have a specific plan going into Costco, but there’s plenty of room for impulse buying once you’re wandering around the warehouse,” Cain said. “I feel like I’m the type of person who shouldn’t be allowed to shop at Costco if I’m having a bad or stressful day, because I’d really go wild with my purchases.”

If you’re far away from one of Costco’s 813 locations, you might be wasting more money on gas driving to the store than you’re saving. Plus, if you have to make a long drive to get there, you might not be shopping there enough to make the cost of a membership worth it.

Costco’s whole appeal is bulk buying, so unless you’re shopping for a lot of people or if you know you’re going to be using it up fast, buying produce or meat in bulk won’t save you money unless you can eat it before it expires.

Costco has a reputation for bargains, but not all Costco deals are as thrifty as you might think – items like pasta and name-brand cereal are usually cheaper at regular grocery stores.

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The CDC’s new mask guidelines fail to protect retail workers, a leading union says, as it calls for a national mask mandate in all stores

Grocery store worker, low-wage
“A national mask mandate is the only way we can finally take control of this virus,’ UFCW said.

  • A leading retail union in the US is calling for masks to be mandatory again as COVID-19 cases soar.
  • The UFCW represents 1.3 million retail workers.
  • New CDC recommendations for masks in high-risk areas don’t go far enough, the UFCW said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The CDC changed its guidance around wearing masks on Tuesday, recommending that everyone wears masks indoors – whether they have been vaccinated or not – in areas of the country where COVID-19 cases are soaring.

But one of the US’ leading retail unions says the new guidelines don’t do enough to protect store workers, and say masks should be mandatory again.

“A national mask mandate is the only way we can finally take control of this virus and every retail CEO in the country must recognize that now is the time for all of us to mask up so we can keep our economy open and communities safe,” UFCW international president Marc Perrone said in a statement shared with Insider.

Insider asked leading retailers in the US including Costco, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, and Home Depot whether they were updating their mask policies, but did not immediately hear back.

The UFCW represents 1.3 million retail workers in the US. It said that 878 of its members had died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Mandatory masks would help prevent workers from playing “vaccination police,” enforcing different rules in different states, he said.

“Urgent action is needed from states and retailers to strengthen COVID safety enforcement so the burden doesn’t fall on the shoulders or essential workers already stretched thin,” he said.

While some workers are happy to be rid of masks, others fear that fewer masked customers puts them at greater risk of infection.

In May, a Starbucks worker told Insider’s Mary Meisenzahl that she was considering leaving her job after the CDC announced that mask mandates would be lifted.

Larry Barton, a professor of crisis management and public safety at the University of Central Florida, told Insider in

If you have a story to share please contact this reporter at or via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (646) 768-4716 using a non-work phone.

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Apple will reportedly let vaccinated customers go maskless in many of its stores from Tuesday

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook

  • Apple plans to drop mask mandates for vaccinated customers at many stores from Tuesday, sources told Bloomberg.
  • Apple staff at the stores will still have to wear masks, the sources said.
  • Apple employees in some California offices will also be allowed to drop their masks, Bloomberg reported.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Apple plans to allow vaccinated customers to go without masks at many of its US stores from Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

Staff would not ask customers to provide proof of vaccination, unnamed sources told Bloomberg.

Staff would still have to wear masks, the company has told workers, per the sources.

The sources asked to remain anonymous because they did not want to discuss company policy before its public announcement, Bloomberg reported.

Apple’s mask mandate would also be scrapped for employees based at Apple’s offices in Cupertino, California, according to an internal memo viewed by Bloomberg.

Some US retailers dropped their in-store mask mandates for customers last month, after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) relaxed its mask guidelines for fully-vaccinated people.

Walmart, Costco, and Trader Joe’s were among the retailers that lifted mask requirements for vaccinated customers.

Apple would check customers’ temperature at the door of its stores and limit occupancy to enable social distancing, Deidre O’Brien, Apple’s senior vice president of retail and people, said in a blogpost last month.

Apple did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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Costco says it’s getting more expensive keep the rotisserie chicken at $4.99, but it won’t raise the price

Costco employee chicken
  • Costco CFO says that the company is under “inflationary pressures” with shortages.
  • The company says it won’t increase the $4.99 rotisserie chicken price.
  • The rotisserie chicken is sold at a loss to draw in customers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Costco’s famous $4.99 rotisserie chickens are getting more expensive for the store to stock, according to Chief Financial Officer Rich Galanti.

Inflation and rising costs are making nearly everything more expensive for consumers, from meat and cheese to electronics. Big box stores like Costco aren’t immune to these higher costs, some of which may be passed on to customers, Insider’s Áine Caine reported.

Costco is under “inflationary pressures,” Galanti said in an earnings call, including “higher labor costs, higher freight costs, higher transportation demand, along with the container shortage and port delays,” along with widespread shortages.

Read more: Ghost kitchens operators like CloudKitchens, Kitchen United, and All Day Kitchens are expanding their business models beyond the rent-a-space model as competition heats up

The price of a rotisserie chicken should stay the same for customers, though Galanti says “there’s been some pressure on some cost components of these items. So those are already impacting our margins a little.” The chickens were already sold at a loss for Costco – the $4.99 price has remained the same since 2009, even as costs of labor and production have increased.

“When others were raising their chicken prices from $4.99 to $5.99, we were willing to eat, if you will, $30 [million] to $40 million a year in gross margin by keeping it at $4.99,” Galanti said in 2015. The chickens are sold at a loss, but they, along with gas and food court items, draw customers into stores where they might make other more profitable purchases.

The rotisserie chickens are also a Costco staple. The big box store sold 87 million in 2017, and 91 million in 2018. To keep costs as low as possible, Costco opened the $450 million facility in Nebraska in 2019, which processes about 2 million chickens a week, with plans to eventually supply nearly half of the chain’s total chickens.

As prices increase, hot dogs are the other staple Costco customers can count on to stay at the same price, even as beef costs surge as much as 20%. The hot dog and soda combination has been priced at $1.50 since 1985.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at

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Your next Costco run could be more expensive as the company warns of expected price hikes for key goods, including trash bags, cheese, plastic plates, and beef

Costco pandemic coronavirus
  • Your monthly Costco run may be about to get much more expensive.
  • On the company’s Thursday earnings call, CFO Richard Galanti says that “inflation pressures abound.”
  • That means prices could rise for meat, cheese, plastic goods, and paper products.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Costco Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti called out rising inflation in the big box company’s Thursday earnings call, noting that selling prices for staples like paper goods, meat, cheese, and trash bags are up.

Galanti rattled through a number of “inflationary soundbites” with analysts on the call and shared a number of products experiencing spiking prices, as well as the reasons for rising costs.

He said that “items shipped across the ocean” have seen “suppliers paying up to double for containers and shipping.” Cheeses in particular are curdling consumers’ wallets, in part due to freight costs and the strength of foreign currencies. Mid-single-digit cost increases for metals and aluminium foil could leave a bad aftertaste for shoppers seeking sodas and other canned beverages.

A post-pandemic wardrobe refresh could also become more expensive; Galanti said that certain apparel items are up 3% to 10%. Computer chips, oils, and chemical supplies could see spikes, thanks to product shortages. Paper products could cut into budgets, as rising pulp prices send prices surging 4% to 8%. Meat is increasingly expensive, rising 7% year over year. Carnivores could get hit with a 20% surge for certain beef products in the last month, according to Galanti.

“Some of that is due to feed and labor and transportation costs, as well as restocking,” Galanti said. “Some of the additional increased demand is coming now from institutional needs, as restaurants start to reopen.”

Galanti also listed out other general “inflationary pressures,” including higher labor costs, higher freight costs, higher transportation demands, container shortages, port delays, and an increased demand for specific product categories.

And anyone looking to take out the trash during spring cleaning is also out of luck. Galanti said that price increases for plastic and resin could see a price uptick for trash bags and plastic wraps, cups, and plates.

The Costco CFO said that in the company’s previous earnings call, he said his “best guess” was that inflation was running in the one to one-and-a-half percent range. That’s since gone up.

“As of today, we guess that overall price inflation at the selling level – and excluding our gasoline sales – would be estimated to be probably more in the two and a half to three and a half percent range,” Galanti said. “Some items are up more. For some items, the sell prices haven’t yet changed. Some items are even down a little bit.”

Galanti added, “We think we’ve done pretty well in terms of controlling that as best we can, but the inflation pressures abound.”

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Costco will no longer require fully vaccinated customers to wear masks in stores, except in states that still have mask mandates

A Costco store in Mount Prospect, Illinois.

  • Costco announced that it will no longer require fully vaccinated customers to wear face masks.
  • However, the policy change only applies to locations without state or local mask mandates.
  • All customers will still be required to wear a mask in Costco’s healthcare departments.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Costco announced on Friday that it will no longer require masks for vaccinated customers in some states.

The company posted an updated mask policy on its website following Thursday’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks both outdoor and indoors, with some exceptions.

Costco said that in locations with no state or local mask requirements, customers who are fully vaccinated can enter the store without a face mask or shield. The retailer said it will not ask for proof of vaccination.

At stores in areas that still have state or local mask mandates, Costco said it will continue to require customers to wear a mask, with the exception of children under the age of 2.

At all locations, face coverings will still be required in the Pharmacy, Optical, and Hearing Aid departments, per CDC guidance.

“Costco continues to recommend that all members and guests, especially those who are at higher risk, wear a mask or shield,” the company said.

Costco tightened its policy around face coverings last November amid a surge in COVID cases nationwide. The company announced at the time that all shoppers, even those with medical conditions, would be required to cover their faces in its stores. When Costco instituted its mask policy in May 2020, it initially said people with conditions that prevented them from wearing a mask could go without a face covering. However, anti-maskers often used medical conditions as an excuse to go without face coverings in public places.

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Warren Buffett will discuss stocks, deals, and the pandemic at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting on Saturday. Here are 18 questions he might answer.

warren buffett
Warren Buffett.

  • Warren Buffett will answer questions at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting on Saturday.
  • The famed investor is expected to discuss stocks, deals, the pandemic, and the economy.
  • Here are 18 questions he might answer on the day.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Warren Buffett will be quizzed for several hours at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting on Saturday.

The billionaire investor and Berkshire CEO has kept an extremely low profile over the past year. Investors, commentators, and other market-watchers will be especially eager to hear from him as a result.

Buffett will be joined by Charlie Munger – Berkshire’s vice-chairman and his right-hand man – as well as Ajit Jain and Greg Abel, who head up the conglomerate’s insurance and non-insurance divisions respectively. Insider will be liveblogging the meeting from 1:30 p.m. ET.

Here are 18 questions Buffett might answer:

1. Is he still bearish on the airline industry? Berkshire exited its positions in the “big four” US carriers in April 2020, as Buffett was concerned about fewer passengers, debt repayments, buyback restrictions, and other issues.

2. What does he think about the US government modeling its airline bailouts on his financial-crisis deals? Sen. Jack Reed told Insider he got the idea to demand stock warrants from Buffett’s Goldman Sachs rescue.

3. Does he regret being so cautious when markets crashed last year? Buffett was widely expected to deploy a chunk of Berkshire’s cash reserves, but instead he focused on protecting his shareholders’ money.

4. Has Berkshire closed any of its businesses? Buffett’s right-hand man, Charlie Munger, said last year Berkshire has a “a few bad businesses” that “won’t reopen when this is over.”

5. Is he worried about the boom in day trading, meme stocks, SPACs, and cryptocurrencies? Buffett has warned against speculation and derided crypto in the past, and flagged the dangers of promoters in his latest annual letter. Munger has slammed Robinhood and bemoaned the “speculative frenzy” in markets.

6. What does he think about President Biden’s tax and infrastructure plans? Buffett and Biden, who spoke before the election last year, have both called for higher taxes on the wealthy, criticized short-termism in corporate America, and trumpeted the nation’s bright future.

7. Does he think Apple is overvalued? Berkshire’s Apple stake has tripled in value since 2018 and now accounts for over 40% of its US stock portfolio.

8. Why did he dump Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Wells Fargo? Berkshire exited its Goldman position and sold its JPMorgan holdings last year, and has drastically reduced its Wells Fargo stake.

9. Why is he so bullish on Bank of America? Buffett plowed $2.1 billion into the stock over 12 days last year.

10. What was Berkshire’s reason for selling its Costco stake? The big-box retailer had been Munger’s favorite company for years.

11. Does he still see value in BYD? Shares in the Chinese electric-vehicle company have skyrocketed since Berkshire invested in 2008.

12. Were his pharmaceutical investments spurred by the pandemic? Berkshire added AbbVie, Bristol Myers Squibb, Pfizer, and Merck to its portfolio in the third quarter of 2020.

13. What does he think about Berkshire betting on Barrick Gold and Snowflake? The uncharacteristic investments in a gold miner and a loss-making technology startup’s IPO, ostensibly by one of Buffett’s deputies, surprised many Berkshire watchers last year.

14. What appeals to him about Chevron and Verizon? Berkshire built multibillion-dollar stakes in the energy group and telecommunications company in the fourth quarter of 2020.

15. Is he still a fan of the Buffett indicator? The investor’s namesake market gauge, which he lauded two decades ago, has surged to record highs in recent months.

16. Why is he betting big on natural gas? Berkshire struck a $10 billion deal to buy Dominion Energy’s natural-gas assets last summer, and has proposed an $8 billion plan to build reserve power plants in Texas to prevent another power crisis.

17. Does he have any international partnerships in the works? Buffett invested in five Japanese trading companies last year, and cited potential tie-ups as one reason for his interest.

18. Why did he decide Whole Foods wasn’t a good fit for Berkshire? Buffett turned down the chance to buy the premium grocer in 2017, its CEO revealed last year.

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I just visited Costco for the first time, and now I see why its sales soared during the pandemic

Me outside the Costco in Cherry Hill, NJ.

  • As a lifelong B.J.’s member, I’d never set foot in a Costco until I visited for this story.
  • I experienced sensory overload – in a good way – and left with food, knickknacks, even clothes.
  • The big box store saw major sales growth even as other retailers faltered during the pandemic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
I walked into the Cherry Hill, New Jersey Costco with two friends, a newly minted membership card, and no idea what I was getting myself into. What I found was something akin to a bulk shopper’s promised land.

Costco has an eclectic mix of items in the front, from jewelry to Ring cameras.

My first impression was just how warehouse-like the store appeared. The helpful greeter pointed me to the membership desk, where I picked up my new membership card.

The laptop and electronics section at Costco.

On a Thursday night, the store wasn’t too empty or crowded as we made our way through. It pretty much had everything, which struck me as a reason why its revenues were up 10% in 2020 compared to 2019 – it’s a one-stop shop for everything you need.

There was a variety of televisions in the Costco warehouse.

One of the first stops was the jewelry counter, with bright lights sparkling off the surprisingly affordable diamonds.

Costco’s jewelry was surprisingly well-priced.

We then moved over to the clothes, where I snagged a pair of the brand’s leggings that some devotees have compared to Lululemon and my friend grabbed a Fila windbreaker. The assortment of comfortable, well-priced clothes impressed all three of us.

Costco during pandemic
Costco clothes range from leggings to button-downs to windbreakers.

One sleeper hit? The book section, which was somewhat random but had some good finds, including the buzzy “Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid for cheaper than I’ve ever seen it.

Costco during pandemic
Their book selection was surprisingly robust, particularly with cookbooks.

Moving toward the back of the store, we found the produce, meats, and cheeses. This is where our wallets really began to hurt.

The back grocery section of the store was particularly tempting.

We then moved over to the famed rotisserie chickens, which seemed to be restocked every 30 seconds by a Costco worker behind the heated shelves.

There were plenty of Costco’s famous $4.99 rotisserie chickens.

The produce section, which included its own refrigerated room, was sprawling – with a good bit of organic produce as well.

Costco during pandemic
There was a pile of brussels sprouts in the produce room.

The bakery was well-stocked, and – perhaps because it was the end of the day – bagels were buy one, get one free.

Costco during pandemic
My friend – pictured for scale – admires the baked goods.

The famous sheet cakes were tucked by the bakery, which smelled appealing even through our masks.

And we couldn’t forget Costco’s famous sheet cakes.

The meats and seafoods, too, were impressive. They had oxtail, fresh salmon, lobster, and pretty much every cut of steak you could imagine. For a vegetarian who lives alone, bulk-buying meat was not on my list, but my friends picked up some pork belly for homemade ramen.

There was a number of lobster in the meat and seafood section to choose from.

Perhaps the best part of the experience, however, was the miracle that is the Costco cheese section. The sheer selection of fancy cheeses from all regions of the world – Halloumi to Camembert – and the fact that they weren’t as expensive as the downtown grocery stores made it one of the most memorable aisles.

My personal favorite was the cheese aisle.

The freezer section, too, beckoned. We’d heard talk of Costco’s nuggets, meant to taste similar to Chick-fil-A, and stowed some away in the cart.

These are the best frozen chicken nuggets I’ve ever had.

And how can you pass up 72 pizza bagels? I was in heaven.

Yes, I furtively bought 72 pizza bagels.

The flower section was another hidden gem – with fresh, vibrant colors and a price tag significantly lower than any florist or other grocery store. A dozen roses came in at $17.99.

This was just some of the flower selection.

Toward the back of the store we found the staple products. In a canny bit of marketing used by most big-box stores, customers at my location were funneled through the high-priced, impulse-buy items on their way to pick up paper towels. Knowing that this was a psychological trick, however, didn’t make us any less susceptible to it.

You can stock up with bulk household items at the back of the store.

One under-praised aspect of Costco, at least in my research, is the medicine and pharmacy aisle. It was a great place to stock up on decently-priced and useful sundries, from Alka-Seltzer to Advil.

Costco’s medicine and personal care aisles were a hidden gem.

The checkout process was perhaps the most stressful of the whole experience: We weren’t quite sure where to stand, or which of the several lines we should go in. Workers herded customers in a way that felt like were were in line at a theme park. Everyone had carts that were just as full as ours. The customer in front of us had even bought a mattress.

Here’s a look into the employee-only section, which was marked by a big “STOP” sign.

Our last stop was the food court. None of us was hungry enough to eat, plus, a trip to Costco took a lot out of us. But there were plenty of patrons milling around, getting the chain’s signature hot dog and soda combo, or perhaps a pizza.

The food court is legendary for its low prices.

The food court looked straight out of a bowling alley in the 1950s – all Americana. But I suppose that’s ok, considering their prices match the era.

Costco food court Covid
The pizza deal is almost as famous as the hot dog and soda combo.

On our way out, I reflected on how safe everything felt for shopping during a pandemic: I never saw a customer with a sagging mask, and the sprawling warehouse meant no one got within six feet of us. All in all, Costco was an overwhelming and expensive experience, and I can’t wait to go back.

We were happy after a long evening of shopping.

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MyPillow’s products have disappeared from Costco’s site – but the company won’t say whether it’s cut ties with Mike Lindell’s brand

Mike Lindell Costco
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.

  • You can’t buy MyPillow’s products on Costco’s website any more.
  • An employee told Insider none seemed to be in stock at any of its stores near Brooklyn either.
  • Costco declined to comment on whether the retailer had cut ties with Mike Lindell’s brand.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

If you’re looking to buy a MyPillow product from Costco, you might struggle.

The brand’s products seem to have disappeared from the retailer’s website.

Insider spoke to a customer service worker from Costco via the company’s website, who said there seemed to be no MyPillow products in stock at any of its stores near Brooklyn. They confirmed that none were listed for sale for online orders.

Costco MyPillow
MyPillow’s products were no longer available on Costco’s website, at time of writing.

Insider asked Costco whether it had cut ties with the brand. The retailer declined to comment.

This is a change from January, when Costco said that it had “contractual commitments to MyPillow that we intend to honor” when asked for comment.

Read more: The MyPillow guy says God helped him beat a crack addiction to build a multimillion-dollar empire. Now his religious devotion to Trump threatens to bring it all crashing down.

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump, has repeatedly pushed voter-fraud conspiracy theories. This included baseless claims that Dominion’s voting machines helped rig the 2020 US presidential election.

In response, the company filed a $1.3 billion lawsuit against both Lindell and MyPillow, accusing the CEO of profiting from his peddling of voter-fraud claims.

Lindell told Insider last week that at least 22 retailers have pulled ties with his company since January, including Sam’s Club, Kohl’s, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Lindell said he expected this to cost the company about $65 million in lost revenue this year, but that radio and podcast infomercials could plug the gap.

More than 100,000 people have also signed a petition calling on other retailers, including Amazon and Walmart, to follow suit and stop selling MyPillow’s products.

Do you have a tip you want to share? Contact Grace Dean via email ( Always use a non-work email.

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Costco is reopening its food courts as restrictions loosen and bringing back fan-favorite items

Costco food court
  • Costco is adding seating back to food courts as restrictions are lifted.
  • The food courts pared down offerings during the pandemic.
  • Costco execs say the food court is key to drawing customers in.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Costco has plans to reopen seating in food courts soon, CNN reported.

In March of 2020, Costco closed down seating areas at food courts and cut back menus. Early in the pandemic, members could only buy hot dogs and pizzas to-go. Now, things are finally getting back to normal. Ice cream, smoothies, and churros are back on the menu, and the wholesale chain is adding back tables and chairs to stores with outdoor areas. Indoor seating is also returning as states lift COVID restrictions.

Costco Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti is planning for the food court to be back in business.

“God willing. But it’s going to take some time,” he told CNN.

Read more: Dollar General became a larger safe haven for cost-conscious shoppers during the pandemic. Experts now warn a lacking e-commerce presence may be its undoing in topping big-box rivals, even as it grows store offerings.

Costco’s food court is key to the chain’s strategy of making the in-store experience appealing over e-commerce to members.

“It’s still important to get people physically in the store. I don’t think brick and mortar is going away,” CEO Craig Jelinek told CNBC in December.

The famously inexpensive snacks are part of what draws people in, he says. The $1.50 hot dog and soda combo is particularly iconic, and the price hasn’t changed since the deal launched in 1985. Costco founder Jim Senegal once told Jelinek, “If you raise the [price of the] effing hot dog, I will kill you. Figure it out.”

The commitment to keeping the price low has paid off. In the 2019 fiscal year, Costco sold 151 million hot-dog combos for a total of about $226.5 million.

“It’s the mindset that when you think of Costco, you think of the $1.50 hot dog,” Jelinek said. “We have no plans to take that hot dog above a buck fifty,” he told shareholders. “End of story.”

Costco did not respond to a request for comment.

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