Why Shoppers Are Addicted to Costco
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12 Reasons Why Shoppers Are Addicted to Costco

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Why Shoppers Are Addicted to Costco
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

Costco's Secret Sauce

Legions of consumers happily pay the (minimum) $60 annual fee for the privilege of shopping at Costco. In 2020, there were over 105 million cardholders, according to the company's annual report. During that same period, more than nine out of 10 members in North America renewed their status. Aside from the savings that come with low prices and bulk buying, what keeps shoppers coming back for more? Here's what members say in online reviews and a Cheapism poll on Facebook. Not a Costco member? You can apply here.

Related: How Non-Members Can Shop at Costco

Quality Products
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Quality Products

One factor that consistently showed up in Cheapism's poll was the quality of the merchandise. Consumer Reports calls some products sold under Costco's in-house Kirkland Signature brand, such as car batteries, toilet paper, condiments, and bacon, top-notch. Several poll respondents single out the paper towels and toilet paper for their excellent quality. Shopper Christina Hardy from Dublin, Ohio, says she rarely buys store-brand but makes an exception for Kirkland paper products and baby wipes because the value is unbeatable, while Powell, Ohio, resident Judi Remenyi loves the prosecco: "For just $7 it is fantastic.” 


Related: 24 Costco Brand Products That Shoppers Love
 

Costco Sample
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Free Food

While samples were given the boot early in the pandemic crisis, anyone who walked into a Costco store on a weekend prior to 2020 surely encountered the veritable smorgasbord of free food. The samples that were handed out were tasty and abundant, and it was possible to enjoy what amounted to a full meal just by ambling through the aisles. Happily, this spring the company's CFO told CNN that the stores would be gradually bringing back free samples of prepared foods like chips, crackers, and cookies, and eventually cooked items like breakfast sandwiches and meatballs would come back, too. 


Related: I Shopped at Costco for the First Time and This Is What I Learned

You Can Get Prescriptions Here ...
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Pharmacy

Prices for pharmaceuticals at Costco are generally cheap — really cheap. A 2018 study by Consumer Reports named Costco the second-cheapest pharmacy out of 150 surveyed, behind only an online pharmacy. In addition to savings on prescribed medications, respondents to the Cheapism poll said they like the selection of personal care options, such as organic sunscreen and baby cream, especially because the bulk sizes sell at lower unit cost.


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There's One Service Desk to Handle Everything
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Return Policy

Costco offers refunds on almost any purchase just because the consumer isn't happy with it, something that keeps customers shopping at ease. Several poll contributors say they feel like they have a safety net shopping at Costco because they will take just about anything back for any reason, with no time limit for most items. Exceptions include electronics (such as TVs, cameras, and tablets), diamonds of 1 carat or larger, tires and car batteries, and custom products or installations; the return window for appliances is 90 days. 


Related: 28 Products Costco Will Take Back That Are a Pain to Return Anywhere Else

Warranties
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Warranties

Without making them pay extra, Costco offers members extended manufacturer's warranties for a total of two years on TVs and computers (but not tablets) and large appliances, such as freezers, dishwashers, and clothes dryers. 


Related: 11 Ways Costco Can Save You Money on Your Car

Organic Food
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Organic Food

Costco recently surpassed Whole Foods as the second-largest retailer of organic food in the United States, making it second only to Walmart. "I love the variety, quality and price of their organic items,” says Nicole Hosking of Cincinnati, a mother of three boys. While Powell, Ohio, resident Jennifer Squillace says the draw for her is affordable organic foods such as fruits, veggies, high-quality meats, and snacks. 


Related: 23 Costco Foods With Cult Followings

 

Bakery
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Bakery

Pastries in their various sugary splendor only sweeten the deal for Costco members. White sheet cakes garner close to reverence in some quarters, and shoppers were aghast last year when the store suspended sales of the beloved cakes. One customer who responded to the Facebook poll says the cake melts in your mouth and fits any party budget, at around $20 for 48 pieces. These days you need to fill out a form and special order one with the flavors and decorations you want. When it's time to pick up a cake, just head to the special order coolers.


Related: Best Store-Bought Desserts From Costco

Clothing Finds
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Clothing Finds

Costco stocks tables of nondescript clothes, but also some brand names. Want a pair of Hunter boots, for example? They've appeared at Costco for about one-third less than the usual retail price. Members have also seen discounts on children's clothing bearing the Carter's label and items such as brand-name socks, work shirts, and women's pants and leggings. 


Related: 17 Smart Things for Singles and Couples to Buy From Costco

Quick Checkout
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Quick Checkout

Although some customers may disagree, poll respondents say Costco employees keep the checkout lines moving at a rapid clip. They may get backed up on occasion, but the stores generally maintain enough open lanes for the time of day and the number of shoppers, according to respondents — and cashiers have an efficient process for ringing up items in a timely fashion. During the pandemic, while lines to get into Costco can wrap around the block, getting checked out is a comparative breeze.

Related: 20 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Costco

Supplier Diversity
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Supplier Diversity

Costco works to broaden its supply chain through a diversity program for businesses owned by minorities and women. It also encourages vendors to set up a "roadshow" at a few Costco stores to display and sell their merchandise for a designated period. David Birnhaum of Powell, Ohio, says he loves the rotation of seasonal products and breadth of products that include things you don’t see in other stores. 


Related: The 30 Best Finds at Costco

Employee Benefits
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Employee Benefits

Costco has a reputation for treating its employees well. A quick look at Glassdoor, a website devoted to employee reviews of workplace benefits, names Costco as one of the Best Places to Work in 2021, with 8,900 reviews giving it a 4.4 out of 5 stars. By contrast, Sam's Club, a competing warehouse club, garners only 3.2 stars from around 7,000 reviewers. One post about Costco describes the benefits as "amazing," another says the health care coverage is "simply the best," and a third highlights the paid sick days and personal days after just six months of employment. 


Related: Costco and Other Companies Paying at Least $15 an Hour

Strong Customer Service
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Strong Customer Service

Treating employees well seems to pay off in their demeanor toward customers. Costco shoppers who responded to our poll said employees are nice, cheerful, and helpful. One mother from Dublin, Ohio, reported getting excellent service when inquiring about the availability of gluten-free options. 


Related: Don't Miss These Perks of Costco and Sam's Club Membership