It’s been a rough few months for diehard Costco fans (yes, I assure you they exist). The Covid-19 pandemic forced the company to shut down its food courts, stop giving out free samples, and even limit purchases of certain products, an idea that seemingly runs counter to the Costco ethos.
But thanks in part to improving conditions in some parts of the country and a universal mask policy, Costco seems to have reached a point where some of its defining features can start to reappear—and not a moment too soon.
On a recent earnings call, Costco admitted that shopping traffic was down two percent in the US for the quarter that ended May 10 (financial calendars are weird like that). In the hopes of potentially turning that around, Costco CFO Richard Galanti announced on the call that “nearly all” of Costco’s food courts should be up and running again by “mid-June.”WATCH: New Orleans Restaurants And FEMA Are Teaming Up to Help Citizens Affected by Covid-19
This welcome news signals a continuation of Costco’s ongoing efforts to get things back to normal, and puts a deadline in sight. A few weeks back, fans of the big-box retailer began to observe that some locations were reopening food courts, albeit with a limited menu. Galanti said that “about 20 percent” of food courts were operating by May 10, but it seems like we now know when the remaining 80 percent should finish coming back online.
The Costco CFO also conceded that food courts would operate with a “much more limited menu,” with some– but not all—items making an appearance. Based on evidence from some reopened locations, that menu should include at least pizza and hot dogs.
If you’re too cheap to pay for anything you can physically eat inside a Costco, the good news is that free sampling will be making a return in some form as well. Galanti mentioned a similar mid-June “slow rollout” for sampling. Given Covid-19 concerns, though, it’s safe to say that the process will look a little bit different. “Needless to say, [it’s] not going to be where you go and just pick up an open sample with your fingers,” Galanti said on the call.
Still, it sounds like things are moving in the right direction for Costco. If they’re careful and do it right, this could hopefully offer some small way to feel like things are getting back to normal. If only fixing the rest of the world were that easy.
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