Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a Placer.ai account? Log In

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

by 
Bracha Arnold
 on 
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.

Takeaways

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 Placer.ai 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 Placer.ai Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Location Intelligence Breakdown: Coffee Caps-Off 2022
Digitally Native Brands Lean Into Brick & Mortar
Washington, D.C. Population Changes & 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
Placer.ai’s Q4 2022 Quarterly Index
Placer.ai 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
Placer.ai 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
Announcing Placer.ai’s COVID RECOVERY DASHBOARD
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
Placer.ai 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
Placer.ai 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
Placer.ai Office Index: October 2022 Recap
Placer.ai 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
Placer.ai 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 Placer.ai’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
September 2022 Analysis: A Difficult Month and Time for Optimism
Inflation’s Retail Winners
Five Apparel Retailers to Watch Ahead of the Holidays
Placer.ai Spotlight: Wawa’s QSR Pivot
Placer.ai Mall Indexes: September 2022 Recap
Placer.ai Office Indexes: September 2022 Recap
The Impact of Population Growth on Commercial Real Estate 
Starbucks' New Makeover
There's Somethin' About Pumpkin
Expanding Offline Reach
Breakfast Restaurants are Rising in Popularity
The Power of Labor Day 2022
Tourism in Miami Heating Up
Citi Trends on the Rise
Reaching Rural Consumers Through Retail Media Network
Darden Restaurants Cooking Up Success
The Home Improvement Sector: A Sign of Consumer Confidence
QSR Is Having a Northeastern Growth Spurt
Domestic Migration’s Ripple Effects
A Look Back at Back To School 2022
Kroger Digital Tell-All
The Return of In-Person Networking
The Reinvention of the American Mall  
Placer.ai Office Building Indexes: August 2022 Recap 
Placer.ai Mall Indexes - August 2022 Recap
Five Below’s Back to School Success
Plus-Size Fashion’s Staying Power
Placer Bytes: Best Buy & GameStop 
Petco Barking Up the Right Tree
Lipstick Effect Boosts Ulta’s Growth