Shoppers have been waiting with bated breath for news on whether Costco plans to raise its membership fees, especially since company leaders have been hinting for months that an increase is in the cards. The chain just confirmed that it is still planning to raise its rates, but customers will have to keep waiting for more details on the timeline.
Costco executives held an earnings call this week, detailing the chain's performance from the latest quarter and some of its plans for the future. When Costco CFO Richard Galanti was asked if they plan to raise membership fees, he gave the same answer he's already given multiple times this year: "it's a question of when, not if."
Costco has historically raised membership fees about every five years and seven months, with the most recent of these increases taking effect in June 2017. If the company wanted to stick to its schedule, the higher prices for memberships are technically overdue. Galanti acknowledged that Costco has waited longer than usual this time around to raise its rates, but said consumers will see an increase eventually. However, he refused to provide more details on the timing.
"We can't really tell you if it's in our plans or not. We'll let you know when we know…So, you know, stay tuned. We'll keep you posted. But there's not a whole lot I can tell you about that," he said.
Galanti explained that Costco does take the state of the economy into account when considering its rates. And as Costco got closer and closer to that five-and-a-half-year mark following its June 2017 fee increase, headlines about inflation and the economy were rampant. Galanti added that Costco is content to hold off on raising rates for the time being since the company is "doing great" and has "great loyalty."
"If we wait a little longer, so be it. And that's kind of how we feel right now."
In the meantime, members have some exciting new shopping features to look forward to. During the call, Galanti detailed some ongoing upgrades to the Costco app and website that will make shopping at the warehouse club easier than ever. These include adding in-warehouse shopping tools to the app, like a digital membership card, a warehouse inventory search feature, prices for nearby gas stations, and the ability to manage shopping lists.