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January 1, Costco’s Sneaky Price Increases: What’s Affected and What’s Safe for Now

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Creeping price hikes have become a familiar sight for consumers, and Costco has typically been a sanctuary for smart shoppers due to its bulk purchases and competitive prices.

However, the retailer has recently increased the prices on some of its popular items.

For instance, while most Costco warehouses have gas stations with prices lower than competitors in that area, the company has subtly raised its prices on gas. Costco gas is usually 30 to 50 cents cheaper than other gas stations, according to GoBankingRates, based on prices listed by the GasBuddy app.

Shoppers throughout the U.S. and Canada saw significant price increases on Kirkland Signature organic extra virgin olive oil. At one store in Brooklyn, the oil jumped from $16.99 in March 2023 to $24.99 this year.

Membership fees, according to reports, may see an increase in price. During the chain’s fiscal first-quarter earnings call, former Costco CFO Richard Galanti suggested a price increase on the company’s popular CostcoGold and Executive memberships; the first time the memberships have increased since 2017. The increase could be anywhere between $5 and $10. The company reported its total cardholders increased to 132 million as of the end of the second quarter, a 7.3% increase over the same period a year ago.

Galanti further stated that there has been improved profitability in gasoline, and the club has been able to increase prices in line with the market.

“What we have found is we’ve been able to see improved profitability, not just in the last quarter or two but over the last few years, the last three to five years, improved profitability in gas because others are making more, and we’re allowed to make a little more,” Galanti said.

“When we do our competitive price shops on gas, which we do weekly at every gas station we operate with neighboring competitive gas stations, our value proposition is actually increased – increased number of cents per gallon than we’ve ever seen,” he added. “So, that’s been, if you will, a win-win for us.”

However, Galanti said in the earnings call that some items like furniture and other bulky, lower-priced items may start falling in price due to reduced freight costs.

“Some deflationary items were as much as 20% to 30%, and again, mostly freight-related,” he said.

Meanwhile, Galanti assured that the $1.50 cost of the warehouse retailer’s hot dog and soda combo “is probably safe for a while.”

The hot dog and soda combo has long been a staple of Costco’s food court, and so has its $1.50 price. The company hasn’t increased the combo’s cost in the roughly four decades it has offered it, thanks to a pledge from its founders.

In other news, the retailer is now selling kimbap, a dish similar to sushi, at competitive prices. It consists of rice and various ingredients wrapped in seaweed. The item has been a popular feature at Trader Joe’s, often selling out.

“You get 6 kimbap for $18, making it slightly cheaper than TJ’s,” one Reddit user wrote. “Solid 8/10. We will definitely be getting it again once it’s back in stock.”

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