Costco is cracking down on its food court after receiving complaints of overcrowding from members

Non-members will no longer be able to enjoy menu item discounts without purchasing a Costco membership

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published March 29, 2024 5:30PM (EDT)

Costco Food Court (George Rose/Getty Images)
Costco Food Court (George Rose/Getty Images)

Costco is making changes to its store policy so that only paying members can enjoy its food court offerings. The big-box retailer is once again cracking down on its food court following complaints of overcrowding from several Costco members.

In an interview with Axios, Costco’s chief financial officer Richard Galanti said starting April 8, locations with outside food courts will require membership cards to purchase menu items. Simply put, non-members will no longer be able to revel in the low prices of Costco’s famed hot dog-soda combo, Double Chocolate Chunk Cookie, Chicken Bake and more without buying its basic membership.

“One of the challenges is that some of the food courts have gotten so busy, particularly if it’s near some office buildings or construction sites,” Galanti said earlier this month. “We were getting member complaints.”

The change doesn’t apply to Costco locations with indoor food courts since member IDs are checked at the door, Galanti added.

Costco’s crackdown on its food court along with its strict membership enforcement comes after the retailer introduced new card scanners back in January. Members are now required to scan their cards at select store entrances in an effort to prohibit membership sharing and keep non-members out of Costco stores.

It’s no surprise why Costco is pushing for more people to join its membership program, considering that members help boost the company’s profits. Membership fees accounted for $4.6 billion, or 73% of Costco's total profit in 2023, CBS News reported

In recent weeks, Costco customers have taken to social media to share pictures of signs at their local stores notifying customers of the upcoming food court policy change. Signs have already been spotted at locations in Washington, California, Maryland and Florida.

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“Effective April 8, 2024, an active Costco membership card will be required to purchase items from our food court,” read a sign spotted in a Silver Spring, Maryland, Costco by a Reddit user. “You can join today. Please see our membership counter for details.” The same sign was also spotted in an Orlando Costco by a separate user.

Costco’s basic membership costs $60 annually. Its exclusive membership, which includes perks like an annual 2% reward and Costco services discounts, costs $120 annually.

Last summer, Costco began asking members for their photo IDs in addition to their membership cards at self-checkout registers. “We don't feel it's right that non-members receive the same benefits and pricing as our members,” the retailer told CBS News at the time.

By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon. She writes about food news and trends and their intersection with culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


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Aggregate Costco Costco Membership Food Court Food News Hot Dog And Soda Combo Wholesale Retailer