Memberships will soon be required in the dining hall?

Costco's food court has been a destination for many shoppers, whether they have memberships in the wholesale retailer or not. But soon, those hot dogs and pizza slices may be available to members only.

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Most of us now know that April 8 is the day of a total solar eclipse. However, for some foodies, today may mean sunset for a feature: dining in the Costco food court.

The warehouse retailer's food courts — home to $1.99 pizza slices and an array of $1.50 hot dogs and drinks — were favorites of members and non-members alike. To shop at Costco, you must have a membership starting at $60 per year. But historically, non-members were able to enter the dining hall to eat.

There are some signs – literally – that inaction is coming to an end. Earlier this month, a user on Social network Reddit She posted a photo of a sign that she says was taken at an Orlando, Florida Costco.

“Beginning April 8, 2024, an active Costco membership card will be required to purchase items from our food court,” the sign read. “You can join today. Please check the membership counter for details.”

Others have posted photos of the signs at other locations, but there is no clear uniform worksite policy As reported by Al-Share'a newspaper..

Costco did not immediately respond to a request about the status of the food court.

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This isn't the first time Costco has reportedly sought to deter non-members from dining at the food court. Back in February 2020 — before the coronavirus lockdown was about to take effect — Costco shoppers reported similar signs.

Costco also recently began cracking down on non-members entering stores. Last year, the retailer began routinely asking to see shoppers' membership IDs along with their photos when they use the self-checkout lanes to discourage sharing memberships with non-members.

“We do not feel it is right for non-members to receive the same benefits and prices as our members,” Costco's statement to USA TODAY at the time said. “Costco is able to keep our prices as low as possible because our membership fees help offset our operating expenses, which makes our membership fees and structure important to us.”

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Why do you need a Costco membership to shop or buy a hot dog?

All these steps taken can encourage shoppers to do so Get their own membership.

Costco, which reported 2023 revenue of $237.7 billion, generated $4.6 billion in membership fees from its nearly 128 million members. According to the company's annual report for the year 2023. This represents an 8% increase from 2022. For 2023, the company reported a 90% membership renewal rate.

In addition to the $60 Gold Star membership, Costco also sells Executive memberships for $120 per year, giving you extra deals on gas, travel, insurance, and more.

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Some members discussing this issue on Reddit thought it was always the case that members were told to eat at the existing court. “$1.50 for dogs is not a right,” said one poster on Reddit.

“After Costco started enforcing this, the food court lines went down and I love it. After I dropped $300 at Costco, this $2 chip brought me so much joy,” another said.

However, the change, if it happens, will not be a good deal for everyone. “Man, when I was in college and too poor to get a membership, I used to go there for lunch. $1.50 hot dog? Pizza? Free refills? I saved a lot of money!” One Reddit post was called out.

Why are Costco hot dogs still only $1.50?

Two years ago, Costco's chief financial officer, Richard Galanti, told investors during a call to discuss financial results that although prices of other items at the store might rise, the hot dog lineup would not.

“Hold the price of hot dogs and soda a little longer — forever,” he said on the call. Per MarketWatch.

This isn't the first time a Costco bigwig has stood firm on the price of the hot dog combo. Craig Jelinek, then Costco CEO, recalls telling Costco co-founder Jim Singal that the retailer couldn't keep selling the set for $1.50 because “we're losing our hind limbs.” 424 commercial locations reported.

“If you raise juicy hot dogs, I'll kill you. Find out,” Sinegal told Jellinek, who now works as a consultant at Costco.

So Costco built its own hot dog factory. “We've kept it at $1.50 and are making enough money to get a fair return,” Jelinek said at the time.

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Contributing: James Powell and Scott Gleeson

Follow Mike Snyder on X and Threads: @mikesnider & com.micegsnider.

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