Costco, like Sam’s, set to raise membership fees

Shoppers join workers in heading into a Costco warehouse Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, in Sheridan, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

HARLINGEN — Costco will be increasing membership fees as early as January, citing membership price hikes at other big retailers, execs at the company confirmed.

In an exchange with reporters at an earnings call this month, Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said, “We feel that we’re in a very strong competitive position right now.”

Galanti had previously noted that both Amazon and Netflix have raised membership rates, too.

In October, competitor Sam’s Club raised its membership fees for the first time in a decade, from $45 to $50 per year for Club members, and from $100 to $110 per year for Plus members.

Galanti did not say how much the Costco membership rate increase would be raised.

Costco has been reluctant to raise its membership rates — currently $60 for a basic Gold Star membership and $120 for an Executive membership, which comes with 2 percent cash back up to $1,000 per year —due to concerns about the economy.

“It’s a question of when, not if,” Galanti said. “If we have to wait a few months that’s fine. I’ll be coy as to actually when.”

Costco announced its operating results for the first quarter of fiscal 2023, which ended in November.

Net sales for the first quarter increased 8.1 percent, to $53.44 billion from $49.42 billion last year.

Galanti said he believes shopping demand will remain strong at Costco, regardless of inflation and despite a slowing of big-ticket purchases.

“People need to eat,” he said.