According to traffic tracker Placer.ai, Costco has been coming on strong through August and should benefit from a traffic surge since COVID-19 related shopping restrictions have normalized.
Although competitors Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale gained in the pandemic as store visits increased in concert with the need for its members to stock up on key household needs, Costco visits were soft year over year, in part because of a high number of its retail locations were in areas hard hit by the pandemic. Yet, as the economy began to open up, Costco’s visits returned. By July 2020, visits were back to a slight year-over-year bump, and August continued the recovery with customer traffic for the month up 1% year over year.
The traffic pace picked up so that a peak in the week beginning August 31 reached 10% visit growth year over year. Although the grocery channel as a whole is performing well and key wholesale competitors are rising, Placer asserted that Costco demonstrated an ability to reassert a unique level of retail dominance.
The store traffic doesn’t reference what’s happened with Costco’s already robust e-commerce operation. Costco enjoyed comparable digital sales gains that surpassed 75% in each of the three key summer months with August digital comps up in the triple digits.