Momentum continued to surge for warehouse clubs in 2021, largely driven by the stellar performance of channel leader Costco. While other areas of retail experienced a drop-off in sales following an impressive 2020, warehouse clubs recorded another year of double-digit growth.
Leading warehouse clubs retailer Costco continued its impressive performance throughout 2021. Undoubtedly one of the biggest retail winners to emerge from the pandemic, Costco’s model has proven to be a winning one.
In 2021, US consumers suffered the consequences of global supply chain slowdowns in the form of inflation, which reached a near 40-year high. This affected a broad range of product categories, from vehicles to furniture.
With supply chain issues plaguing retailers of every shape and size, the warehouse club business model has proved to be a strong counter-measure to tightening profit margins. For example, Costco’s strong bargaining power with suppliers, by virtue of its high-volume merchandise model, ensured that costs did not increase to the degree seen in other channels.
Although there are encouraging signs of economic recovery in the US, there remains uncertainty surrounding prospects over the forecast period. Retailers will need to increasingly hone the value that they offer consumers if they are to sustain long-term growth themselves.
Despite often being overlooked in favour of its two larger rivals in the warehouse clubs channel, Costco and Sam’s Club, BJ’s has more than held its own over the past two years. Benefiting from much of the same consumer behaviour that has catapulted the warehouse clubs channel into the retailing limelight, BJ’s has steadily recorded robust growth to match the heavy hitters.
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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 wholesale 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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