Weeks after revealing that it would discontinue special operating hours for seniors and other vulnerable members at the end of July, Costco Wholesale is changing course and will instead reduce its special operating hours from five days a week to twice-weekly events.
According to the company’s website, effective July 26, special operating hours for members ages 60 or older will be held from from 9 to 10 a.m., Tuesday and Thursday in the United States and Puerto Rico. In addition to members ages 60 and older, the special operating hours also includes those with disabilities or who are immunocompromised.
The reversal comes at a time when COVID-19 cases continue to spike across the country due to the Delta variant. In May, when cases were on the decrease, the retailer said it was phasing back sampling and demos with increased safety measures after suspending those activities last year at the onset of the pandemic. There’s no word yet whether product sampling will once again be suspended if cases continue their upward trajectory.
Meanwhile, Costco financials have fared very well during the pandemic. The retailer reported third-quarter (ending May 9) earnings late on May 27 that continue not just to impress, but also astonish. Costco said that net sales increased 21.7% to $44.38 billion, from $36.45 billion last year. Same-store sales, excluding the impacts of fuel and currency fluctuations, shot up 15.2% in the United States, an increased from the 12.6% logged in the previous quarter. E-commerce was also up, by 38.2%, although digital sales were down from the 80.3% increase seen in the company’s second quarter.
Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco operates 809 warehouses worldwide. The company, which is No. 4 on Progressive Grocer’s 2021 PG 100 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, also has e-commerce sites in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Korea and Taiwan.