The warehouse chain announced that it was “starting a gradual return to full sampling” early next month after a 14-month hiatus. About 170 U.S. sites will report food samples in the first week of June and “most of the remaining sites” will return by the end of June, Costco CFO Richard Galanti said on the earnings call. Thursday.
There will be changes in the way food is distributed due to COVID-19. Galanti said it has “enhanced security protocols” in place, including samples prepared behind plexiglass, made in smaller batches and distributed to customers one by one. Costco eliminated food sampling in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic.
Fans of its food court will see some changes, especially to its seating. Some stores will have outdoor food courts and, starting next month, indoor seating will return to most of its 560 locations in the United States with “more physical separation.” The tables will have four seats instead of six or eight and “half the capacity we had before,” Galanti said.
In other changes to the food court, Costco is also adding new and improved churros to the menus, which will be available by July 4. A new ice cream is also replacing its frozen yogurt this summer.
Galanti noted that its food court business has not fully recovered to 2019 levels and “will likely take several more months.” Costco has started reopening its so-called secret weapon in recent months and expanding its menu.
In March 2020, Costco also closed food court rest areas when the pandemic took hold and reduced the menu to take-out hot dogs and pizza only. The company doesn’t split sales at food courts, but that’s one of the perks that help persuade shoppers to pay $ 60 or $ 120 for a Costco membership each year.
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