Costco really wants nonmembers to stop eating at its food court

News Room
  • Costco is stopping people without a membership from using its food courts.
  • While it’s always been official policy, some stores haven’t strictly enforced it in the past.
  • The clampdown is part of Costco’s efforts to limit nonmember store access.

Famed for its $1.50 hot-dog and soda combo, the Costco food court has attracted the store’s members and nonmembers alike.

Now, Costco is stopping people without membership from using its food court.

One Reddit user posted a photo of a sign outside a Costco in Orlando that said: “Effective April 8, 2024, an active Costco membership card will be required to purchase items from our food court.”

Four Costco locations around the US confirmed to Business Insider that they had been instructed to ensure people’s membership cards are checked when they use the food court.

A Costco worker in the administration department at a Chicago store told BI that the policy was becoming more strictly enforced, with members being sent letters in December and signs placed outside.

Costco didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s always been Costco’s policy that only members can enter the warehouse, meaning those without a membership can’t access the indoor food court for many locations.

But some stores have outdoor food courts or kiosks, which have provided an opportunity for nonmembers to bypass the security checks.

It’s the latest move in Costco’s attempts to crack down on nonmembers. Since last year, customers have been increasingly asked at the checkout to show a member ID with their photo so an employee can ensure the customer is not using someone else’s card.

Membership fees account for most of Costco’s profit, which totaled about $4.6 billion in 2023, about 72% of the company’s profits.

Enforcing membership is a way to hold on to these profits, and it’s proved a successful way to help the company avoid the level of shoplifting that plagues other retailers.

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