Nearly 128 million people held memberships to Costco Wholesale in 2023, according to Statista. Needless to say, the corporation -- which opened in the 1980s in Washington state -- is a total powerhouse in the retail sector. With such a massive chunk of consumers worldwide entering into its locations on a daily basis to buy chicken, toiletries, bulk packaged snacks, gasoline, diapers, and more, any and all proposed changes to the Costco company stand to affect a whole lot of people.
And if you're one of the millions who frequent the warehouses, you might want to stand by -- from the looks of it, 2024 will be an exciting year for the Costco organization. It seems that not even our favorite wholesaler is immune to New Year's resolutions, and there are multiple changes reportedly in the works. From new products to food court re-styling to card scanning policies to potentially higher prices attached to memberships, prepare yourself for some of the biggest changes coming to Costco in 2024.
Read more: 20 Frozen Foods Costco Shoppers Swear By
Its Bakery Is Getting Some New Additions
Let's start things off with a positive, shall we? We doubt there's a soul alive who wouldn't classify the news of a brand new Costco bakery item as thrilling if they're familiar with the celebrated department's long array of decadent products. Lucky for us, there's not just one baked newcomer to add to our Costco shopping list of must-tries -- there are three.
The first is a Roasted Garlic Parmesan Bread loaf, a sinfully soft on the inside, perfectly crisp on the outside loaf of savory bread with -- wait for it -- real chunks of garlic scattered throughout. Laura Lamb, who runs Costcohotfinds on Instagram, declared it one of the best loaves she's tasted in her life ... something which pretty significantly piques our interest in the treat. The second item in the new Costco baked goods lineup is the Triple Chocolate Cream Pie, which employs graham cracker crust, layers of brownie, whipped cream, and shaved chocolate curls to create a rich, unforgettable flavor. The final newest baked beauty worthy of mention is the Cookies & Cream Mini Cake, a cupcake-like chocolate dessert smothered in a thick layer of frosting reminiscent of Oreo cookies. We should warn you that these ones come in packs of six -- so be prepared to institute some self-control if you don't want to eat them all in one sitting.
Cards Will Be Scanned At The Door
Everyone who shops at Costco is familiar with the process of pulling their wallet out of their back pocket before hitting the front door and flashing the photo of their smiling face on their membership card to the attendant working the entrance. Since shopping at Costco is a membership-only privilege, showing proof of being a paying club affiliate is paramount. In the past, a simple flash of the Costco-issued ID card has been sufficient -- but in 2024, the warehouse will be taking things a step further before granting entrance to shoppers.
Since there have been recent issues with members sharing their cards with non-paying friends or family members to get them in the door, Costco is reportedly cracking down by employing scanning technology before you even enter inside. "Membership scan at entrance," reads the title of a recent Reddit thread beside a photo displaying an entrance worker with a hand scanner. "I've seen people with multiple carts full of food get turned away (not without a fight) at the checkout line due to having someone else's card," described a user on the thread. "This could be an effort to avoid situations like that?" While it's unclear if this new policy has carried through to every location, we recommend being prepared for this reality the next time you head to your nearest warehouse.
You Can Expect More Store Openings
If you thought the world had enough Costco locations already, you thought wrong. Apparently, the need for more warehouses exists ... as evidenced by the company's reported plan to expand by 31 new locations in 2024. Those currently under construction are listed on Costco's official website and include cities such as Loomis, California, Daytona, Florida, and Shenzhen, China, among others. The hope, of course, is that these new additions to the Costco universe will cut down on overcrowding in the existing ones ... so naturally, many consumers have questions about how long the construction of these much-needed warehouses will take.
"130 days," answered an alleged construction worker on Reddit, satisfying customer curiosity. "That's the contract schedule [...] 75 days of which are the building, siding, roof and all doors. I'm a project manager for the company that builds all new Costcos (the actual steel building part) in the US, Canada, and some abroad. But overall, it's a 130-day schedule." This could actually be considered a surprisingly speedy timeline, considering the sheer size of the warehouses themselves. Hence, we doubt the corporation will have any issues meeting its New Year's goal of 31 new structures. At the end of the day, though, we suppose we will have to just wait and see.
The Wholesaler Has Some Brand New Leadership In The House
Craig Jelinek had been running the show as Chief Executive Officer, or CEO, of Costco for about 11 years before he announced in October of 2023 that he would be stepping down. His chosen successor, Ron Vanchris, had a story that many people connected with instantly -- not only had he been working within the Costco organization for 40 years, but he had also started his long-standing career as a forklift driver. This rags-to-riches tale involving one man climbing the corporate ladder step by step gave many a warm feeling regarding the up-and-coming boss, his humble beginnings making him seem more relatable.
"He was very nice," said a Costco employee on Reddit who had met Vanchris during an inspection. "He took the time to chat with me for a minute even though he was clearly very busy." The official change in CEO took effect January 1st, 2024. While Jelinek, the previous Chief Executive Officer, will be staying on through April to serve as an advisor and assist Vanchris in the transition, many are waiting with bated breath to see what changes might be instituted for Costco under its new leadership.
You'll Have To Say Goodbye To Churros
Let's be honest -- churros are straight-up delicious. These deep-fried, doughy, cinnamon-and-sugar-coated sticks are truly a culinary gift to humankind, and Costco frequenters are likely familiar with the company's take on the baked treat with Spanish roots. For years, the Costco food court has dished out its popular churro product for hungry consumers -- but in 2024, the snack's reign has come to an unexpected and heart-wrenching end.
The food court churros have reportedly been dashed from the menu, leaving many consumers devastated. It's never easy for your heart or your taste buds to say goodbye to a treat you're enthralled with ... but at least there is a brand new available item on the food court menu to help distract you from your sadness. At the same time that the last of the churro dough was being chucked from Costco food court locations, a red carpet was being rolled out on a new treat: the Double Chocolate Chunk Cookie. Whether or not the timing of the cookie's entrance was planned so that the organization's angry, churro-mourning fan base might intentionally be soothed, we cannot say. "These better be amazing," said a user on Instagram in reference to the switch, "because to take the churros out is wildddd." Whether or not the change will be ultimately welcomed or resented remains to be seen.
You May Have To Stand To Eat
The white-and-red tables at the Costco food court are so well-known that they're likely one of the first things you visualize when picturing the warehouse interior. It's well understood that when you order your bubbling cheese pizza, you will be able to sit down to eat it ... at least, this was the case in 2023. In 2024, it appears, this reality could shift. According to customers, some Costco locations have made the switch to standing tables only in their food courts -- and more could be on their way to complying with the unpopular trend.
"My Costco food court replaced the tables with these monstrosities," reads the title of a recent Reddit post. The dissatisfied consumer's photo featuring tall, circular white tables with no attached benches racked up plenty of shock and dismay among responding users, who expressed pity for the poster's description of balancing her small child on her knee so they could eat. Though this post was from a Costco located in South Korea, the United States is seeing an increasing number of identical standing tables pop up, as well. "Mine, in Montana, added a few to the already existing tables," confirmed a responding user on the thread. "But they didn't take the seated ones away." If this trend continues to spread, we hope that some regular seating options will continue to be available for those who are physically unable to stand and eat, at the very least.
We Might See A Super-Costco Open This Year
We've all seen some of our favorite stores and markets go "super." Target, for example, has opened up some Super Target facilities (larger-than-standard sized locations that offer a full grocery selection), and Walmart has ample 24-hour Supercenter locations under its belt. When it comes to Costco Wholesale, however, it's not likely a place you thought of as needing a super-sized alternate version of itself -- likely because its locations are so big, to begin with. However, word on the street is that a super-sized Costco location may very well be in the works.
According to Business Insider, Costco has plans to erect a warehouse over 240,000 square feet in size in Fresno, California. This would become the company's largest location by a landslide, overshadowing its current largest space in Salt Lake City, Utah, which sits at 235,000 square feet. While only a portion of this massive location would actually be open to standard shoppers (a chunk of the building supposedly being dedicated to commercial customers only), we're sure we speak for the majority of people when we say that we'd love the experience of strolling through a super-sized Costco at least once in our lives.
Your Membership Price May Go Up
Costco has traditionally raised its rates for annual membership fees every five or so years. Its most recent increase occurred back in 2017 -- therefore if this pattern holds, the world is overdue for another upward slide in price in 2024. While the official word of an upped membership rate hasn't yet come down from the higher-ups at Costco Wholesale, we can all likely expect it to at some point in the near future. According to Today, Richard Galanti, the chief financial officer for the Costco corporation, stated in September 2023 that a rise in membership prices was a "matter of when, not if."
Galenti reported that with consistent renewal rates and new membership sign-ons having remained strong in recent years, the corporation hasn't felt any rush to change anything for some time. This has undoubtedly been a blessing for many, who have found a haven in Costco's low prices during the ebbing onslaught of inflation. However, Galenti seems to be aware that the company can't keep it up forever and will ultimately need to do what it has to do to remain profitable. Galenti concluded his September update with the mysterious warning: "You'll see it happen at some point." Yikes. We suppose all we can do is wait, keep shopping, and see what happens.
You Can Anticipate Some App Improvements
With the extent to which our modern society uses technology, having a successful app associated with your business can be a large part of your success. It can make or break the customer experience, in fact, sometimes determining whether or not consumers want to return to the doors of the place in question at all.
Despite all of its bulk-goods glory, Costco has been surprisingly lacking in the app department for years. The company's CFO (chief financial officer), Richard Galanti, reported that customers originally bestowed Costco's app store an abysmal 2.3-star rating -- causing the organization to focus its energies on improving things. In-store search engines, digital membership cards, and the ability to create an in-app shopping list, to name a few, are some of the features that have been added to the Costco app, bringing the customer rating for the technology up to a positive 4.7 stars.
While this is a huge improvement, relished Galanti, Costco has no plans to stop there. The company reports that it will be working on further developments in its technological sector -- and we wait with bated breath to see what new, exciting features pop up this year when we load the Costco app.
Its Newest Hires Will Be Getting A Raise, According To Employees
Raises can be a touchy subject among employees in any sector, to be sure. Who gets one, who doesn't, and when ... these are all questions that, generally speaking, leave one person very happy and yet another disgruntled. And at Costco, there are some current feelings -- positive for some, negative for others -- spreading throughout the community of its throngs of employees.
"So it's official," reads the title of a recent Reddit thread under r/Costco, "all new hires will get a dollar increase in pay an hour. Anyone higher than the first two steps get NOTHING." This seemingly odd call for a paycheck rise from corporate for only the brand-new Costco employee base has brought out numerous opinions from its workers, some of whom are excited and others who are downcast. Some employees suggest that the policy is likely an attempt at motivating new hires to stick around longer, pointing out that seasoned Costco employees also make much more than someone just starting out at the warehouse. Other seasoned workers, however, maintain that rewarding those who have not proven their ability as opposed to the ones who have is blatantly unfair. Either way, it appears the change is happening -- for those who like it or not.
It Now Carries Bibigo's Kimchi And Cheese Rice Balls, Which Are Trending On Tik Tok
These days, TikTok feels like a legitimate news station for all things Costco. Hot finds, new products; whatever it is, you better believe someone will be taping the evidence and sharing their experience with the world via the video-based social media platform. TikTok is currently lighting up with dozens of videos regarding a hot new product to the Costco shelves, which is quickly becoming a viral grocery treasure.
Though it's unclear exactly when Bibigo's Kimchi and Cheese Rice Balls started showing up in Costco's freezer section, they appear to have made a low-key entrance in some select international warehouses in late 2023. By January 2024, they have circulated to various locations across the U.S. and have quickly blown up in popularity. Trending on platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Reddit, these microwaveable rice-based balls filled with bubbling mozzarella cheese have become one of the top new products to try. You're welcome to hop on the bandwagon along with all the other viral taste testers yourself ... assuming your local Costco carries the kimchi creations. If not, though, never fear; given its sudden and immense popularity, we would expect the product to continue to circulate throughout more and more stores in the coming days.
You'll Be Able To Find Bulk Packs Of Magic Spoon Cereal
Everyone wants to be able to kiss their standard sugary, empty-calorie breakfast cereal goodbye and pour a healthier option into a milk-filled bowl, but traditionally, there haven't been too many options out there. Cue Magic Spoon Cereal -- a celebrated sugar-free, keto-friendly cereal packed with 14 grams of protein per bowl. Though there has been plenty of love thrown in the direction of this newcomer to the breakfast aisle, like most health foods, it has been available only in smaller boxes from retailers and is impossible to find in a larger-sized option.
Cue Costco, swooping in to do what they do best. With the coming of the new year, Magic Spoon Cereal is now available in an extra-large 14-ounce box at the warehouse -- making it so your healthy fruity rings can last longer than the first day you buy them. At some stores, the cereal appears to be packaged as two 7 oz. boxes in one container, but either way, you are getting double what you would at your local Target for close to the same price. Costco, you've done it again, and we wish you luck smashing the rest of your New Year's resolutions, too.
Read the original article on Mashed.