Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

Costco, BJ’s, and Sam’s Club - Q1 2022 Update

Bracha Arnold
May 17, 2022
Costco, BJ’s, and Sam’s Club - Q1 2022 Update

The wholesale category was thriving when we last checked in.  Costco landed on our 2022 Predicted Winners list  and BJ’s and Sam’s Club were still riding the wave of 2021 success. But the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022 brought about a new set of challenges that threatened to upend the consistent strength the segment had seen.

We dove deeper into the retail foot traffic trends to see how these chains are doing.

Superstores Overtaking Grocery

Since the beginning of 2022, many retail categories found themselves shaken up as the impact of inflation and rising gas prices took hold. Grocery stores, long considered a pandemic “winner” with their ever-increasing visits, began to see foot traffic slipping as consumers turned to superstores to save money by either stocking up or limiting visits. 

In Q1 2022, superstores – including Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s, among others – began to outperform grocery nationwide. These trends were likely buoyed by the one-stop-shopping experience superstores offer, which helps cost-conscious customers save on gas and buy in bulk, all while taking advantage of the value orientation of these chains.  

The Yearly Picture

Diving deeper into the wholesale club sector specifically, the segment’s leaders – and BJ’s in particular – experienced dramatic foot traffic surges over the pandemic. Yet, year-over-year (YoY)  declines in early 2022 indicate that the category could be facing greater headwinds. All three chains analyzed saw months in 2022 where visits declined compared to the same months a year prior. Whether due to Omicron, inflation or gas prices, the unique mix of challenges clearly impacted the sector’s performance.

However, it’s important to consider the context of these year-over-year numbers; it compares traffic during a period of unique challenges for visits in 2022 to one of unique success from 2021. These declines here need to be understood within the wholesale club context, where less frequent visits were consistently offset by larger basket sizes throughout the pandemic. This ability to thrive even as visits decline is an important feature that has enabled the segment to over perform throughout the pandemic. And this likely worked in favor of these chains in recent months, especially considering how quickly they rebounded from more difficult months.

Sustained Year over Three Year Growth

But even more context comes from zooming out in time and looking at visits compared to the equivalent months pre-pandemic. While year-over-year numbers compare a current period of significant challenges to a period of unique strength, looking back at pre-pandemic visits shows just how far the segment, and its top chains, have come. April visits to BJ’s, Sam’s Club, and Costco were up 2.1%, 9.1%, and 3.6%, respectively, when compared to April 2019 - even in the face of inflation and rising gas prices.

Even BJ’s, the sole retailer to see occasional negative monthly numbers from this perspective, quickly returned to growth after each decline. After a March dip of 2.5%, it quickly rebounded into 2.1% growth in April when compared to the equivalent month in 2019. 

And although they may not have matched the levels seen in 2021’s wholesale club-surge, the wholesaler has even more reason to be optimistic. The chain, which has roughly one-third the amount of stores as their direct competitors, is embracing innovation as a way to attract customers. Its recently launched BJ’s Market acts as a local grocer, combining wholesale prices (and membership dues/benefits) with more typical city supermarket offerings. The ability to leverage its current strength as a platform to launch new offerings is a key signal that the brand is looking to maximize the boost it has seen in recent years.


2022 presented a unique mix of challenges and even a high-performing sector like wholesale clubs was not immune. However, context is critical. While year-over-year visits declined in some cases, the segment’s leap forward is obvious when comparing visits to the same months pre-pandemic. In addition, these retailers have proven particularly adept at serving customers whether they choose more regular visits, or look to bulk up on less frequent stops. 

Should the wider economic headwinds continue to dissipate, the sector could be poised for another period of positive traffic trends. But even if these elements continue to impact shopping patterns, the value orientation these chains provide and their ability to mesh with mission-driven shopping should drive continued relative strength.

Visit for more data-driven insights.

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
What’s in Store for Self-Storage?
Nike + lululemon Update: Strong Performance Amid Expansion Plans
Many Ways to Win: Midwest Grocery Deep Dive
Retail, Reinvented: The Rise of the Pop-Up Shop
Navigating a New Normal in Business Travel & Commutes Office Index: February 2023 Recap
Retail Categories Staying Strong in Volatile Environment
Ulta Beauty: Poised for Success into 2023 Mall Index February 2023: Reasons for Continued Optimism
Catching Up With DICK’s & Hibbett
The Miami-Dade Arena: An Advertising Slam Dunk
Car Washes Revving Up Visits
Tuesday Morning and Sunrises in Home Furnishing
Dining & Valentine’s Day Recap
2023: The Year of the Discount Store
Aldi’s Success Highlights Growing Demand for Value Groceries
5 Retail & Service Categories Holding onto Pandemic Gains in 2023
Visitor Insights from Super Bowl 2023
2023 First Look: Home Improvement Update
How Are Target, Walmart, and Wholesale Clubs Faring in 2023?
Department Store Deep-Dive: Nordstrom
Off-Price: Taking Off in Uncertain Times
Checking in On Middle-Class Hubs
Who Attends the Super Bowl? Office Index: January 2023 Recap
Focusing On Fitness: Q4 and January Recap Mall Index: January 2023 – Returning Mall Normalcy?
Location Intelligence Insights Into Concert Attendance
Winning Dining Strategies for 2023
In-N-Out Burger: What to Expect as the Brand Moves East
Location Intelligence Breakdown: Coffee Caps-Off 2022
Digitally Native Brands Lean Into Brick & Mortar
Washington, D.C. Population Changes & Migration Trends
A Location Intelligence Perspective on Macy’s Rightsizing
Amazon-Powered Shopping: The Future of Brick-and-Mortar Grocery?
Cold Weather, Hot Visits: Diving into Winter Resorts
Wawa and 7-Eleven: Leaning Into the “Slurpee Effect”
2022 and Beyond: Catching Up With McDonald’s & Chipotle
Let’s Have Some Fun! Going Out Is In’s Q4 2022 Quarterly Index Adds Industry Executives to Leadership Team To Drive Company's Next Phase of Growth
5 Emerging Retail Formats: 2023’s Brick-and-Mortar Evolution
Grocery Update: Zooming in on the Lone Star State
2022 Office Recap: The Year of the TGIF Work Week
What Lies Ahead for Brick-and-Mortar Luxury in 2023 Mall Indexes: December 2022 Recap
Looking Back on 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season
Post-Pandemic Migration Trends in New York
Top Retailers for 2023
The Live Sports Advertising Opportunity
Domestic Migration to the Mountain States: Small Shifts with Big Implications
New Year, New Food: 5 Dining Trends For 2023
This is Why Shop-in-Shops Are Everywhere
Super Saturday 2022 Recap
The San Francisco Shift
Grocery Year-End Update: Publix in the Spotlight
Three Ways Retailers Can Think Small to Increase Store Impact
Offline Beauty Is on an Upswing
The Evolving Migration Patterns of New York’s Florida Snowbirds Office Index: November 2022 Recap
How Viral Social Media Trends Can Drive Offline Engagement
Are You Ready for Some Football? Experiential Marketing Shows Promise
Mall and Shopping Center Trends For 2023
Retail Corridors and Indoor Malls: A Holiday Head-to-Head
Placer Bytes: Nike, lululemon, and GameStop Update Mall Indexes: November 2022 Update
Black Friday 2022: Consumers Hear the Call
Digitally Native Brands: Taking Off, Offline
Discount and Dollar Stores Leading the Pack
Turkey Wednesday 2022
Retail’s Evolving Holiday Season
Placer Bytes: Starbucks and Department Stores Ahead of Black Friday
Ulta: A Force to be Reckoned With
College Towns Drive Dining Growth
Foot Traffic Trends Reveal Consumers Ready for Holiday Cheer
How Retailers Can Win Big By Going Small
How Are Consumers Feeling Ahead of Black Friday 2022?
Off-Price, Hibbett, and Dick’s Pre-Holiday Check-in
Ho, Ho, Wholesale: Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s
October 2022’s Retail Rebound
Target and Walmart Ahead of the Holidays
Home Improvement: Leave it to the Pros
Despite Inflation, Holiday Season is Off to a Good Start Office Index: October 2022 Recap Mall Indexes- October 2022 Update
Americans Double Down on Fitness
The State of Grocery
CVS and Walgreens: The Wave Continues
Coffee Chains Brewing Up Visits Spotlight: Pizza Players
What Drove COVID-Era Urban Migration Trends?
Kroger and Albertsons: A Merging of Strengths
Texas Roadhouse Innovations Dishing Up Success
Holidays on the Horizon: Mid-Range and Luxury Shopping
McDonald's and Chipotle's Post-Pandemic Success
Announcing’s Q3 2022 Quarterly Index
5 Hot Restaurant Brands for 2023
Target Finds a Winning Deals Day Formula
Five Trends to Watch for 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season