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Costco CEO comments on possible membership price hike: ‘You’ll see it happen’

(NEXSTAR) – As ever, the chief financial officer of Costco remains vague about any plans to increase membership fees. But make no mistake: The price hikes are coming.

“It’s a question of when, not if,” Costco CFO Richard Galanti said during an earnings call last week, echoing previous statements he’s made in past calls.

“You know, it’s a little longer this time around since June of ’17, so we’re six years into it,” he added, referring to the last time Costco raised fees in 2017 (up from $55 to $60 for Gold Star members, and from $110 to $120 for executive memberships). “But you’ll see it happen at some point. We can’t really tell you if it’s in our plans or not.”

In the 15 years prior to 2017’s membership increase, Costco had raised fees every five years and seven months, on average, as Galanti himself noted in a 2022 earnings call. If that trend had held steady, another price hike would have taken effect in Jan. 2023 — meaning Costco memberships might be long overdue for another increase.

But if Costco’s leadership has indeed settled on a timeline for the next price increase, Galanti wouldn’t say.

“We’ll let you know when we know,” he said. “We feel good, needless to say, about all the attributes of member loyalty and member growth. And, frankly, in terms of looking at the values that we provided our members, we continue to increase those in certainly a greater amount than even, even more than if and when an increase occurs.

“So you know, stay tuned. We’ll keep you posted. But there’s not a whole lot I can tell you about that.”

Later, when asked by an analyst if a possible recession would factor into any decision concerning price hikes, Galanti said it would. But he quickly added that it hadn’t yet.

“It does matter, and I think it really mattered as we approached kind of the five and a half years post-June of ’17,” he said.

“You know, the headline every day was inflation and economy. And so, we’re doing great. We’ve got great loyalty. If we wait a little longer, so be it. And that’s kind of how we feel right now.”