(NEXSTAR) — It takes money to save money, apparently.
Bargain shoppers have long touted the savings they allege to accrue by purchasing their gargantuan boxes of granola bars or unwieldy packs of toilet paper at Costco. But before Costco members even set foot inside the store, their wallets need to be prepared to bear the immediate burden of buying in bulk — which sometimes means plunking down a more substantial dollar amount.
Recent data from Numerator, a market-research firm headquartered in Chicago, had suggested that the average Costco shopper spends just over $100 per visit for a total of around $3,000 per year, according to updated 2023 data first reported by Business Insider. Numerator data shared with Nexstar also appears to indicate that Costco’s average transaction is approximately double the average Target or Walmart transaction, which hover at around $50 and $54 bucks respectively, per the company’s findings.
But Numerator’s spending estimates relied on data provided by the firm’s own Receipt Hog app, meaning those “averages” are based only a small percentage of total Costco transactions.
So, how much does the average Costco actually spend?
The actual average transaction amount, per Costco shopper and per visit, is closer to “roughly $150 per order,” a representative for Costco told Nexstar, citing past earnings calls.
Costco’s own data suggests the average spend-per-visit has been growing too, with increases of 6.9% and 1.9% during the periods covered in Costco’s two most recent earnings reports, respectively.
The average Executive member — i.e., a Costco member who pays for the $120 Executive membership rather than the $60 Business of Gold Star membership — “spends more and shops more” than other types of customers, Costco CFO Richard Galanti added in a March earnings call.
Despite the membership fees and relatively large per-visit transactions, most Costco shoppers also appear to feel the perks are worth the cost. Membership renewal rates are at “all-times highs,” Galanti recently noted, with around 68.1 million paid memberships as of the last quarterly report.
It remains to be seen whether those renewal rates will remain high when Costco’s membership fees ultimately increase once again. Historically, the retailer has raised the Gold Star annual price between every five or six years, and the last membership hike took effect in June 2017.
“In our view, it’s a question of when, not if,” Galanti said during the March call. “And so we’ll let you know.”