Although Costco saw a “significant uplight” in sales in the preceding weeks leading up to the UK’s nation-wide lockdown on March 23, it suffered a stark loss of sales during lockdown itself as households around the country adhered to the social distancing and isolation procedures.
Now that restrictions are cautiously yet steadily being lifted, and more and more people embrace the return to normality, it comes as little surprise that shops everywhere are reporting surges in sales once more, including Costco.
Whereas during the lockdown sales for material goods dropped, Costco’s latest reports demonstrate a 10% increase since reopening. This is due to an increase in footfall once more, as well as larger basket hauls per customer as the need to solely purchase necessities subsides. Food and drinks, health products, outdoor niceties and electronic purchases are the main categories to see a rise.
Interestingly enough, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the ways in which it affected the retail industry as a whole, Costco’s sales for this year increased 2.9% to £2.62bn and overall pre-tax profits increased 4.4% to £21.5mn. This is demonstrative of one thing: a resurgence in the wholesale market.
Costco credits its unique membership club as the primary reason for the business being so reactive to its shoppers’ demands and wishes. This has meant Costco has been able to rebound quickly and with effectiveness following wide-scale events such as the pandemic, which have already caused multiple high street chains such as Debenhams and Bella Italia to enter administration.
Alongside its membership’s in-store sales, Costco also hopes to drive higher profits by expanding its business model to include the sale of fuel. Despite an overall decrease in fuel sales, this is looking to be a temporary drop, and so Costco is pushing forward with its purchasing and renovation of forecourts around the UK. This isn’t an expedition funded on blind hope – research discovered that petrol stations close by to Costco depots were helping to drive in-house footfall and customer sales.
Retail executives in the Costco team and, indeed, around the country, will be set on tenterhooks in the upcoming months, however. The Christmas shopping period could make or break the final sales figures for 2020, and the threat of a second wave of COVID 19 could compromise profits for businesses around the country. If a second national lockdown is imposed, more brands could face administration if a viable e-commerce alternative is not in place.