Costco Doesn’t Stock As Many Items As You Think It Does

Costco only stocks approximately 4,000 items in its stores at once, whereas online, it offers a selection of 10,000 items, but this is still less than the 80,000 items that are stored at retailers like Target.

By Ryan Clancy | Published


Bulk-buy giant Costco has been deceiving us all. When you walk into its huge warehouse stores with aisles and aisles of merchandise stretching as far as the eye can see, it seems like the items just go on forever. Customers would never have thought that most of these huge stores carry less than half of what Costco’s website offers. This thought may be mind-blowing, but it is true. The average Costco store holds only 4,000 different items, while its e-commerce partner offers, on average, 10,000 items. 

To show just how little that is, an average grocery store can hold an average of 48,000 different items at one time. Some of Target’s larger stores can carry an enormous 80,000 items. So if you ever think there is a variety of options in Target, that is because there is. 

These comparisons show how much Costco actually stocks compared to the average store. When you go into one of their stores, it seems like so much more but this is due to so much of one item on the shelves as customers are there to bulk buy to save money. 

While 4,000 items may seem like very little, Costco stocks a lot of international foods as well as homegrown items. There is also a very strict re-stock schedule that they adhere to. If customers know when their re-stock goes ahead, they may be able to bag themselves an even better deal. 

The way Costco employees re-stock their store depends on their storage facilities. Many of their stores do not have a warehouse in the back of their facilities to store extra merchandise. This means that re-stocking of goods only occurs when they are shipped to the store, which they do not do during the day like other supermarkets. They wait until the store is closed to re-stock any items or to rearrange stock or something new. 

To solve their storage issues, they get new shipments of merchandise every night, which their employees on the night shift sort and pack away, usually between the hours of 4 am to opening. Depending on how you want to shop, if you are looking for the best items, in the morning is when you should head to Costco, but if you want to avoid the crowds, then the last hour before closing is the best time. If you are looking for something specific, you could call ahead or check online to ensure your trip isn’t in vain, or you may end up in a Costco, impulse buying some big ketchup.

While it seems like Costco isn’t housing as much merchandise as one would think, they are excellent at what they do. They have built a retail brand that is almost recession-proof and has a mantra like no other discount store out there, which is something that is hard to do in a modern age where everything has been thought of. The addition of their foodcourt makes it a one-stop shop for everything one might need. How could we live without Costco even if it doesn’t sell hardly anything?