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Costco Makes It More Difficult to Share Membership Cards

Retailer now asking shoppers for photo ID at self-checkout registers
Emily Crowe, Progressive Grocer
Costco is now asking self-checkout shoppers to show their photo ID to verify their identity.

Following the rollout of self-checkout stations at its stores, Costco Wholesale Corp. is being forced to crack down on membership card sharing. According to a report from CNN, the club retailer is now following its standard checkout procedure of asking for shoppers’ membership cards, as well as a photo ID, to use self-checkout registers.

“We don’t feel it’s right that nonmembers receive the same benefits and pricing as our members,” the company said in a statement.

During its third quarter earnings call at the end of May, Richard Galanti, Costco’s director, EVP and CFO, said the company has seen continued membership growth.

“We ended Q3 with 69.1 million paid household members and 124.7 million cardholders, both up approximately 7% versus a year ago.” Executive members now represent a little more than 45% of Costco’s paid members and approximately 73% of worldwide sales.

Although Galanti made mention of raising membership fees “at some point,” the company has no immediate plans to do so.

Meanwhile, net sales for Costco’s Q3 increased 1.9% to $52.60 billion, from $51.61 billion last year. Reported net income for the quarter was $1.30 billion, or $2.93 per diluted share, compared with $1.35 billion, or $3.04 per diluted share, a year ago in the year-ago quarter.

While traffic or shopping frequency remains in good shape at the company, increasing 4.8% worldwide and 3.5% in the United States, Galanti said, “Our average daily transaction or ticket was down 4.2% worldwide and down 3.5% in the U.S., impacted, in large part, from weakness in bigger-ticket nonfood discretionary items.”

Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco currently operates 853 warehouses, including 587 in the United States and Puerto Rico and 107 in Canada. The company is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG has also named Costco one of its Retailers of the Century.

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