No Free (or Cheap) Lunch

Without a doubt the best deal in town for lunch is Costco’s food court.  But that good deal is getting a little less sweet, as Costco has indicated it will require a Costco membership in order to purchase food at their food courts.

Costco claims the food courts have always been intended for members only but this policy was rarely or never enforced.  That’s going to change in March, when at least a basic Gold membership will be required to purchase food.  A Gold membership is $60 a year.  If you plan on eating at Costco at least once a week, that will add roughly a dollar to the cost of your meal each week – still a really good deal overall.

I’m curious as to why Costco would do this.  Their food courts are always packed, so perhaps it’s a matter of them being too popular and needing to cull back their sales somewhat.  Are they losing money on the food court?  Is  it a loss leader intended to bring in new customers and retain existing ones?  The Internet is full of debate but I wasn’t able to find any definitive answers as to whether Costco makes money on their food courts.  But I’m guessing they do.  So why reduce that profit?

This is one of  those decisions I scratch my head at.  Any of you readers have a theory on why Costco would do this?

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