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Costco Just Revealed Very Ambitious Expansion Plans—Here's How Many New Stores You Can Expect

America's top-selling warehouse club could soon overtake its main rival in total store count, too.

Since the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, when new store openings creeped to a halt, Costco has steadily worked to expand its retail footprint.

America's top-selling warehouse club has opened about 23 new buildings on average in each of the past three years, according to the company. Now, it's looking to press forward even more aggressively.

During an earnings call last Thursday, Costco's chief financial officer Richard Galanti outlined the company's "game plan" for continued growth over the next 10 years. As he explained it, the plan calls for even more new store openings every year, both in North America and internationally.

"We'd like to get above 25 [new stores] over each of the next five years and closer to 30 in years six through 10," Galanti said.

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If the plan comes to fruition, Costco would significantly outpace its chief rival, Sam's Club, and likely overtake the Walmart-owned competitor's now-slim lead in total store count.

Sam's currently operates about 600 stores in the U.S. but hasn't opened a new location since 2017 and also closed 63 locations in 2018. This past January, however, Sam's Club announced its own plan to open more than 30 new stores over the next five years, with the first expected to launch in 2024.

Costco, meanwhile, operates 853 warehouses worldwide, including 587 in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The club has already opened 14 new stores this fiscal year, including eight U.S. openings. Its newest location opened just last week in Tulsa, Okla. 

The Issaquah, Wash.-based retailer has at least four more U.S. openings scheduled for this summer alone, including stores in Buckeye, Ariz.; Georgetown, Texas; Denver, Colo.; and Canton, Ohio, according to its website. Costco is also planning to open another four stores overseas this summer, including two in China, one in Australia, and another in Japan.

Costco additionally has numerous buildings now in the works, with no announced opening date. These include at least three reported projects in Texas, one of Sam's Club's biggest markets.

According to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Costco also recently submitted plans to build a new store right in Sam's Club's backyard. The proposed site in Lowell, Ark., is less than 12 miles from Sam's corporate headquarters in Bentonville.

KSDK-TV reports that Costco is also constructing a new Costco Business Center in the St. Louis area.

"We've got a good pipeline of pending openings, for sure, over the next three or four years," Galanti said during last week's investor call, "and with an equal level of comfort that we feel that we'll continue to have plenty of opportunities to open units."

Chris Shott
Chris Shott is the Deputy Editor covering restaurants and groceries for Eat This, Not That! Read more about Chris