8 Biggest Changes Costco Has Made This Year
Even if you're not a Costco member, you've surely heard that some things at the wholesale club never change. The price of the food court hot dog has held steadfast since 1985. Kirkland Signature products always prevail. And free samples await customers at every aisle—although they did take a brief hiatus at the height of the pandemic.
Even so, other products and services throughout the warehouse are constantly evolving, and in 2022 alone, several major changes have been made at Costco stores nationwide. Despite circulating rumors of a membership fee increase this year, the cost of admission to the club still stands at $60 for a Business or Gold Star Membership or $120 for an Executive Membership.
But, that membership card may now get you a little bit more—or in some cases, a little bit less—than it used to. Here are a few of the most notable changes Costco has made in 2022.
Another Costco car wash opened up
Earlier this year, many were shocked to learn that a few lucky Costco locations come with a little-known added perk. In addition to filling up the tank at a discount and buying quality tires, these stores offer members a convenient car wash service. For a price tag of $7.99, shoppers receive an exterior wash and wax, tire and wheel cleaning, an undercarriage wash and rust inhibitor, and a spot-free rinse.
During 2022, Costco added the amenity to another location in Norwalk, Calif., bringing the state to a total of seven car washes and the entire country to a total of 13 across five states.
According to Yelp reviews, the new Norwalk car wash already has a few fans—but also a few foes. One happy car wash customer gave the location a five-star rating and shared, "As far as drive-through car washes go I think this one is great. I like that there are two pay terminals to help keep the line going, on my visit in May 2022 they even had employees out there who were taping down your back wiper if needed."
Another not-so-satisfied Costco member wrote that the car wash had actually caused damage to her vehicle. "I've never seen a costco car wash before and was curious as it was only 7.99 compared to other drive thru car washes," she shared. "CURIOSITY PUT A CHIP IN MY PAINT! Never had this problem going through other car washes just spend a couple more bucks and save yourself the stress!"
The bakery introduced a variety of mini treats
Costco is well-known for its bulk and oversized products. But this year in the bakery section, mini items have been all the rage. The Costco bakers have been cranking out mini versions of nearly every beloved treat this year, and have even brought back a couple of discontinued favorites.
At the start of 2022, Mini All American Cakes returned to Costco in packs of six. This chocolatey treat was then followed by the miniaturization of four other popular cakes–Snickerdoodle, Carrot, Red Velvet, and the new kid on the bakery block, Raspberry with Buttercream Frosting.
Outside of the cake family, Costco shoppers discovered mini Chocolate Chip Cookies (sold in tubs of 60 total cookies!) and Mini Cranberry Orange Bisconie this year.
New Jersey Costcos changed their gas policy
Starting on July 5, non-warehouse members in New Jersey lost their access to Costco's gas stations. In many states, a Costco card has always been required in order to fill up your tank. But in New Jersey, Costco and other wholesalers with gas services were told back in 2004 that restricting access to members was a violation of state fuel sale laws. So, non-members were able to take advantage of this exclusive perk for nearly 20 years.
However, the rule in New Jersey may be reversed yet again, according to Fox Business. A few lawmakers in the state have been campaigning for Costco's gas to be available to everyone and have even introduced bills to change the current policy. Stay tuned, New Jersey.
Costco Next welcomed new vendors
In 2017, Costco Next emerged, giving members yet another reason to love the big-box retailer. According to Costco, the program features a selection of limited products from some of Costco's most trusted suppliers. Members are invited to shop and purchase directly from participating vendor websites and receive exclusive pricing and discounts.
A wide range of suppliers, from beauty brands to technology companies, is included on the list and more were added during 2022. Skincare company Boscia, art brand Disney by Dowdle, and dinnerware and design brand Fitz & Floyd, were among the additions, which brought the Costco Next list to a total of 42 hand-selected vendors. Check out the full list here.
Costco stopped offering its mortgage program
Costco announced in May it would no longer offer a mortgage program to its members. The program was initially launched in 2020 and provided an advantageous cap on lender fees to those who participated—a $250 cap for Executive members and a $550 cap for all other members.
Costco was not a lender itself, but rather worked with the following mortgage lending companies: Box Home Loans, CrossCountry Mortgage, Lending.com, Mutual of Omaha Mortgage, NASB, NBKC Bank, Real Genius, and Strong Home Mortgage. At the program's discontinuation, members in the process of applying for a loan were advised to contact whichever one of these companies they had been working with.
Costco did not provide specific reasoning for ending the service.
Food court pizza boxes got a fresh new look
If you've picked up a pizza from the Costco food court recently, you likely spotted this slight change on the box (or maybe you were too focused on your delicious pie to notice—we don't blame you).
Earlier this year, Costco upgraded all of its cardboard pizza boxes to include the How2Recycle label. The label lets consumers know that the boxes are in fact recyclable–despite previous misconceptions that cardboard containing any grease had to remain in the normal trash pile.
Costco is committed to creating a more eco-friendly business, and this change is just one of many helping to bring the chain closer to its sustainability goals.
All Costco warehouses discontinued Covid store hours
Along with many other stores and major retail chains, Costco debuted special hours at the start of the pandemic. This meant that on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, seniors, immunocompromised shoppers or those with disabilities, and first responders, were able to access the store an hour before other members to shop without exposing themselves to large crowds. Over the past couple of years, the policy toggled between being available two or five days a week, depending on the number of Covid cases.
Early this year, the chain determined that the special hours were no longer necessary and halted them completely on April 18. Costco has gotten lax about many other Covid-related policies as well. For example, face mask requirements have been dropped across the country and purchase limits on various items seem to have fallen to the wayside.
Costco cut ribbons across the country
The retailer's 2022 New Year's resolution was to open over 20 new locations globally—a goal that Costco has largely achieved. More than a handful of these new stores have opened on American soil, specifically in the latter half of the year.
The city of Riverton, Utah welcomed its first store back in May after nearly two years of anticipation. In August, a slew of new warehouses opened their doors in the following U.S. cities: Murrieta, Calif.; Verona, Wis; St. Augustine, Fla.; and College Station, Texas. Another Costco was added in University City, Mo. this week, and six more are still slated to follow before the year's end in Utah, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, California, and Washington.
Additionally, 2022 brought confirmation of an upcoming store opening in Scarborough, Maine–the state's very first Costco. This development would leave just Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Wyoming without access to the wholesale club.