costco is taking a page from the Netflix book.
The retailer is cracking down on people sneaking into its clubs and trying to shop with other people’s membership cards, it said Tuesday.
Costco said it has always asked shoppers for their membership cards at the register when they check out. Now, it also asks to see cards with a photo at self-checkout records, and to see a photo ID if a shopper’s membership card doesn’t have a photo.
“We do not believe it is right for non-members to receive the same benefits and prices as our members,” the company said in a statement.
The membership-based deposit club said it has noticed increased card sharing abuse since it expanded self-checkout to more of its stores.
The increased application was previously reported by The Dallas morning news.
Costco is distinguished from other retailers by its business model. Most of their profits come from membership fees, which help cover company expenses and keep prices low. It charges $60 for annual memberships and $120 per year for its top-tier plan, called the Executive Membership.
Membership-based deposit clubs have been attracting more customers and earning more from their wallets in the last three years. Shoppers who turned to clubs to help stock pantry toilet paper and hand sanitizer during the covid pandemic now they go there for cheaper gas and bulk food during a period of inflation.
Walmart-Sam’s Club, owned by Sam’s Club, has seen a similar increase in business. Its number of members has reached a record.
Yet even clubs have felt pressure as consumers pull out due to inflation or spend on experiences like travel and dining out. Over the past two quarters, Costco has reported a higher mix of sales coming from food as demand for pricier products declines and popular pandemic categories like furniture and electronics.
Its net sales increased year-over-year by about 2% to $52.6 billion, including the impact of inflation. during the quarter ending May 7.
“It all rains down on us during these tough times, particularly with higher-value discretionary items,” Costco Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said on a December earnings call.
Costco shares are up nearly 16% year-to-date, outpacing the S&P 500’s roughly 14% gain. The shares closed Monday at $523.42.