The interior of a Costco store / FOTOLIA

Costco to open a store in Malaga: this is what you need to know about the way this American retail giant operates

The second largest retail chain in the world will be at the Malaga Nostrum retail park, but only fee-paying members will be able to shop there

ALMUDENA NOGUÉS Malaga

As SUR revealed yesterday Costco Wholesale, the second biggest chain in the world after Walmart, is to open at the Malaga Nostrum retail park, probably in 2024. However, its way of operating is completely different to that which most of us are used to. Costco doesn’t just have shoppers; it has members. It is like a club, which you have to join and pay an annual fee in order to pass through its checkouts.

Costco’s first venture in Europe was in Seville in 2014, and the following year in Getafe (Madrid), then Las Rozas in Madrid in 2020 and at the end of last year a store was opened in Sestao (Vizcaya). Next year the company plans to open a branch in Paterna, Valencia, and in 2024 it will be Malaga’s turn.

Annual fee

Anyone who wants to shop at Costco has to become a member and pay an annual fee in advance. This can be done by filling in a form at the store or online. It costs 36 euros a year for individuals and 30 euros for companies and the self-employed. Once you are signed up, you will receive a membership card to present at the checkout. At the end of 2020, this retail giant had more than 320,000 members in Spain.

The stock at Costco is varied, from food to clothes, electronic items to jewellery, domestic appliances to toys, kitchen utensils to decorative products and much more.

The vast majority of products are sold in extra-large or family packs containing more items than are normally found in other hypermarkets. The idea is to sell large volumes of goods in order to be able to keep prices down.

Kirkland Signature

Costco also has a brand of its own, Kirkland Signature, which includes clothing, pet food, detergent, toilet rolls, tinned foods, car accessories and beauty products, and these account for 20 per cent of everything sold in their stores.

The company says there are several reasons why it can keep prices low, including that it spends very little on marketing. Nor does it bother much with aesthetics: the stores resemble industrial warehouses where the goods are piled on pallets and tall shelf units, but customers obviously don’t mind, because this is one of the most popular businesses in the world.

ABD