Nearly all of Costco Wholesale’s food courts will be reopened by the middle of June, finance chief Richard Galanti said on the company’s third-quarter earnings call.

About 20% of the food courts were reopened at the end of the quarter. Costco, based in Issaquah, has also eliminated some food items, but didn’t say which ones.

Another big part of the Costco in-store experience are the free food samples. Vendors also love them, as they’re key to getting customers to try new items. The company said today that it will start a “slow rollout” of some form of sampling in mid-June, but it won’t be stuff on open trays, picked up with fingers. “I can’t say anymore,” Galanti said cryptically.

Costco relies on store traffic more than other retailers as it was slow to embrace e-commerce, preferring to rely on the “treasure hunt” in-store experience. U.S. foot traffic was down 2% in the quarter. The company operates 787 stores worldwide, including 547 in the U.S.


For the three-month period ended May 10, the company posted profit of $838 million, down 7.5% from the comparable quarter last year. The profit was negatively affected by wage and sanitation costs tied to COVID-19, Costco said. Revenue rose 7.2% to $37.3 billion.

Costco’s comparable-store domestic sales, excluding gas, rose 8%, beating analysts’ expectation for a 7% gain. Earnings per share of $1.89 trailed estimates.

Before Costco released its results, its shares closed Thursday at $309.56, up 1.2%; they fell more than 2% in after-hours trading.

The Seattle Times staff contributed to this report.