Placer.ai: Costco Comeback Showcases Strength

Costco store visits were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but a store traffic comeback is more evidence of the retailer’s strength, according to Placer.ai.

The traffic tracker pointed out that Costco’s location distribution was more significant in harder-hit states and that the nature of warehouse club-style stock up shopping limited the need for frequent visits even as coronavirus-related movement restrictions eased. Yet, despite the challenges the company faced, Placer maintained, Costco has shown its true strength by rapidly moving back towards the consistent year-over-year growth experienced pre-pandemic. Visits to Costco locations were down just 6.5% year-over-year in June compared to 14% in May.

The pace of Costco’s comeback is increasing, Placer noted. Store visits in the week of June 22nd, the last full week in June, came in down just 3.6% year-over-year. The week was also the first since mid-March that saw visits rise above baseline for the period beginning January 1, 2019 and running through July 1.

Costco actually enjoyed eight days in June with year-over-year growth in daily visits including a peak on June 19, when visits gained 11.7% versus the equivalent day in 2019, Placer indicated, adding that these were the first days of year-over-year growth to offline locations since March.

The best may still lie ahead for Costco, Placer stated. The focus on value in a time of economic uncertainty, a membership model that clearly got a boost from pandemic shopping trends and the return of normalcy to in-store shopping behavior could position the brand for a productive period in the months to come.