Costco Wholesale Corp. reported ecommerce sales declined 10% in its fiscal third quarter ended May 7. Moreover, Costco ecommerce sales fell 7.8% for its first three fiscal quarters.
However, Costco net sales for the quarter increased to $52.60 billion. That’s up 1.9% from $51.61 billion in the prior year’s fiscal third quarter. And net sales for the first 36 weeks increased to $160.28 billion. That’s up 5.5% from $151.97 billion in the same period last year.
Chief financial officer Richard Galanti said big ticket discretionary departments decreased ecommerce sales 20%. Those included home furnishings, small electronics, jewelry and hardware, he said. Those accounted for 55% of Costco ecommerce sales.
“These same departments were down about 17% in warehouse, but they only make up 8% of in warehouse sales,” Galanti said.
Costco ranks No. 6 in the Top 1000. The database is Digital Commerce 360’s ranking of the largest North American online retailers by web sales.
Costco ecommerce sales
Galanti said Costco hired a vice president of digital transformation in the past year to improve ecommerce, including both mobile sites and applications.
“That complemented three other outside VPs we hired, one of which was in the data analytics area,” Galanti said. “And we’ve really, over the last six to nine months, began a two-year roadmap to improve and re-platform our primary ecommerce website, and the same goes for our mobile apps and mobile site.”
Omnichannel fulfillment at Costco
“In terms of the benefit of buying online and picking up in store and things like that, we frankly view that as more costly than it is beneficial,” Galanti said. “In fairness to the different retailers that feel they have to do it, many of them want to do it. But there’s a cost of doing that.”
Costco can “certainly do more online,” Galanti said.
“We don’t have some strategic goal to go from 8% — which is still a $20 billion business — but to go from 8% of sales to 16%,” Galanti said. “But let’s go from 8% to 9%, 9% to 10%, 10% to 11% over a certain period of time. And we think that with some of the things we’re doing on that side, we can.”
One such thing Costco is working to implement, according to Galanti: showing in-stock warehouse inventory online.
Costco membership growth in fiscal Q3
Galanti said Costco increased new memberships 7% year over year.
“Membership growth continues,” Galanti said.
The wholesale retailer ended its fiscal third quarter with 69.1 million paid household members and 124.7 million cardholders, both up approximately 7% versus a year ago. Also at the end of the third quarter, Costco had 31.3 million paid executive members. That’s up 681,000 — or an average of 57,000 per week — during the 12-week fiscal third quarter.
“Executive members now represent a little over 45% of our paid members and approximately 73% of worldwide sales,” Galanti said.
Meanwhile, the retailer increased its number of warehouses “just under” 3%.
For the quarter, Costco reported $1.44 billion of membership fee income. That’s 1.98% of sales compared to $984 million, or 1.91% a year ago in the third quarter, Galanti said. That represents a $60 million (6.1%) increase in membership fees, he said.
In terms of membership renewals, the United States and Canada membership renewal rate was 92.6%. Globally, that rate is 90.5%.
For the fiscal third quarter ended May 7, 2023, Costco reported:
- Net sales increased to $52.60 billion. That’s up 1.9% from $51.61 billion in the prior year’s fiscal third quarter.
- Costco ecommerce sales declined 10%.
- $1.44 billion in membership fee income, comprising 1.98% of sales compared to $984 million, or 1.91% a year ago in the third quarter.
For the 36-week period ended May 7, 2023, Costco reported:
- Net sales for the first 36 weeks increased to $160.28 billion. That’s up 5.5% from $151.97 billion in the same period last year.
- Costco ecommerce sales fell 7.8%.
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