The truth about Costco’s major membership policy change

If you’re thinking of heading to Costco with family and friends to get your bulk shopping done, now is not the time to do it. While Costco used to allow a cardholder to bring three adults and children into the store, the warehouse store has had to change its policy to make room for new social distancing requirements to try and stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. New rules now state that one membership card will only allow for two people to enter the store; and because the rules aren’t clear on what two “people” means, the second person (other than the cardholder) could be another adult or the cardholder’s child (via The Motley Fool).

Costco says the change to its membership policy is a move to comply with public health guidelines, and it’s not the first change the warehouse store has had to roll out since the coronavirus pandemic put most of the country under lockdown. Costco now opens at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to allow for seniors aged 60 and above, as well as the disabled, to shop ahead of the crowds, and it’s closing earlier -— at 6:30 p.m. It’s giving priority access to healthcare workers and first responders. Certain departments, like the hearing aid, optical, floral and jewelry departments will either be cutting service or shut down altogether. The company has also barred members from returning items like toilet paper, bottled water, sanitizing wipes, paper towels, rice, and disinfecting spray (via Costco).

There may be more changes ahead for Costco

The warehouse store has had to respond quickly to keep up with developments triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. Early images of panic-buying across the country saw people hitting Costco to stock up on staples like toilet paper and household cleaners. While Costco’s overall sales numbers are good, its bottom line is actually being hurt by social distancing measures and by the closure of departments which aren’t considered essential (via MarketWatch).

To explain the changes, Costco’s CEO Craig Jelinek posted a message on the company’s site, where he said more modifications could be expected as the situation changes. He explained, “While the circumstances continue to change and we modify our operations as necessary, we thank you for your patience and cooperation. As new developments occur, be assured we are committed to taking care of our members and employees and to our mission of providing low prices, quality merchandise and exceptional service.”

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