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Costco to ban nonmembers from food courts

The San Luis Obispo Costco food court. Photo by Dillon Azarvand

It’s time to say goodbye to cheap pizzas and churros for Costco non members. 

Costco announced a new policy where only members could eat at the relatively inexpensive food court.  

Many signs were popping up at Costco locations warning customers that they will no longer be able to order food unless they are a cardholder. Instagram account @costcodeals, with 612,000 followers, posted an image of the news.

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“Effective March 16, 2020, an active Costco membership card will be required to purchase items from our food court,” the sign stated. “You can join today. Please see our membership counter for details.”

The starting price for a Gold Star Costco Membership is $60 per year. That includes two cards for two persons.

Local Costco employee Hayden Wethington says that most food courts are in the warehouse, so to access it one will need their member card. 

“The company is hoping the loss of members can be offset by the people who start using a membership,” Wethington said.

Another employee stated that the company has pushed back the date of the new policy, and isn’t announcing when the new rule will be implemented. 

“I thought it was really nice Costco allowed people without a membership to buy food here, but I know that’s not the common practice and Costco tends to make most of its money off it’s members,” said Adri Yarkin, a Cal Poly student and Costco member. “I think, from the community perspective, it’s very beneficial to have a cheap food source.

Julia Graham, a student at Cuesta College who can’t afford a Costco membership, echoed the same sentiment.

“I think it’s really presumptuous that Costco assumes anyone who purchases their food has a membership,” Graham said. “It’s a secondary source of income that they are cutting it off.” 

According to Costco’s 2019 Annual Report, the company currently operates 785 warehouses, including 546 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 100 in Canada, 39 in Mexico, 33 in Europe, 56 in Asia, and 11 in Australia. Costco also operates e-commerce sites in the U.S.

There’s no definitive answer explaining if Costco is losing money or making profits off the food court. The company has yet to make a statement.