While its number of outlets is still limited in Japan, Costco continued to show strong growth despite COVID-19, due to its unique product offering and shopping experience, which attracted consumers to visit its stores. In the review period, Costco shopping tips and product introduction segments were amongst the most popular segments in TV programmes.
When Costco first entered Japan, bulk purchase was not a common shopping habit amongst Japanese people, as the common way of shopping was to visit grocery stores frequently. This can be explained by the nature of living conditions in Japan, where living space is limited and households have small refrigerators and storage units compared with in markets such as the US, which have larger living and storage space.
In the review period, foodservice and grocery delivery services grew rapidly, especially during COVID-19. In 2021, Costco introduced a food delivery service by partnering with third party delivery companies such as Wolt and Uber Eats for selected outlets.
Costco continues to increase its presence in Japan by gradually expanding the number of outlets in the market. The company has announced its plan to increase the number of outlets to 60 by 2030, from the current 30 outlets.
Since its first market entry back in 1999, Costco has attracted Japanese consumers with its unique product offering, especially imported goods or overseas-inspired delis, which are normally difficult to find in general retailers in Japan. Visitors are able to get a feel of overseas, and the store visit itself is a type of entertainment.
In the review period, various retailers were observed offering Costco products in their physical outlets. Some examples include Cost Trader Market, which opened in Nagasaki prefecture in October 2021, and Costsustore, which opened in Tokyo in August 2021.
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Warehouse clubs are chained outlets that sell a wide variety of merchandise, typically situated in out-of-town locations, with a selling space of over 2,500 sq metres (and invariably over 4,000 sq metres in total size). Customers have to pay an annual membership fee in order to shop. The clubs are able to keep prices low due to the no-frills format of the stores and large volume SKUs. Example brands include Costco, Sam’s Club (Walmart), and Atacadão. Excludes sales attributable to membership fees and business-to-business sales. Also excludes cash & carry and warehouse outlets (which are typically oriented towards businesses, rather than consumers). Note: Local variants, such as atacarejos in Brazil, are included in this channel.See All of Our Definitions
This report originates from Passport, our Warehouse Clubs research and analysis database.
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