Could Costco's Black Friday Success Be Enough to Prevent a Membership Fee Hike?

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KEY POINTS

  • Because it's been years since Costco fees went up, some members may be anticipating a hike.
  • The more revenue Costco takes in, the less likely it is to feel the need to raise its fees.
  • Black Friday 2022 was a success, indicating that holiday sales at Costco may be sufficient to prevent a fee hike.


Don't want to pay more for Costco? You may not have to.

Will the cost of a Costco membership rise in 2023? That's something many fans of the warehouse club giant are curious about.

Now the good news is that Costco has no immediate plans to raise the cost of its memberships -- that's something it stated emphatically during its last earnings call. But Costco, like other retailers, has faced higher costs and tighter margins due to inflation. And so it's not inconceivable to expect a membership fee hike at some point in the new year.

In fact, Costco has not imposed a membership fee hike in over five years. And usually, it raises its membership cost every five years or so. This means that soon enough, Costco will actually be overdue for a fee hike, and the fact that it's not implementing one this quarter is something members should be thankful for.

Meanwhile, the more revenue Costco takes in, the less likely a near-term fee hike will be. And based on initial Black Friday data, there's reason to be hopeful that Costco will hold off on increasing its fees during the first half of 2023, and possibly even during the latter half.

Black Friday at Costco was a success

Like many retailers, Costco relies on Black Friday for an uptick in revenue. And this year, Costco offered up a host of fabulous deals designed to tempt consumers to whip out their credit cards and do some spending.

Those marketing efforts may have paid off. According to Bank of America analyst Robert Ohmes, initial data points to solid traffic at Costco during its Black Friday sales event. In fact, customer traffic at Costco surpassed that of BJs, a competing warehouse club.

That's a really good sign for Costco. And it could be a sign that holiday traffic will hold steady and remain strong well into December -- especially since Costco still has a host of seasonal deals on offer.

If Costco enjoys a solid holiday season, it may end the year in a strong enough position to keep membership fees where they are for a while longer. And so consumers who are tired of seeing their expenses rise may be in for some relief, at least as far as Costco is concerned.

A membership fee hike shouldn't be a deal-breaker

At a time when inflation is driving living costs upward, no one wants to spend more on any single service or bill, whether it's cable, electricity, or the ability to shop at Costco. But the reality is that at some point, Costco will be more than justified in raising its fees. After all, it, too, needs to keep up with inflation.

The good news is that if Costco raises its fees, those hikes are unlikely to be substantial. And also, it's those very membership fees that allow Costco to continuously offer the ultra-low prices it does. So if a Costco membership ends up costing $5 or $10 more per year by the end of 2023, that's hardly something for consumers to protest too heavily -- especially since the price of a membership hasn't changed since 2017.

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