Think inflation still isn’t a real problem? Just visit your local Costco.
I’m not talking about the items on the shelves, mind you — although that’s a real enough problem on its own, even in a bulk-purchase store where you half expect to find two brand-new Kias bubble-wrapped together for slightly below MSRP.
I’m talking about the items on the food-court menu.
While a hot dog will still cost you only a buck-fifty there, it’s amazing how little $10 will get you if you want to be a little more adventurous.
On Sunday, a poster on Reddit alerted America to the $9.99 roast beef sandwich at a Lynnwood, Washington, Costco — and, according to Fox Business, that’s not going to get you a slab of prime rib between two slices of gourmet bread or anything.
Instead, the sandwich features “sliced roast beef with onion, relish, mayo/mustard blend, lettuce, roasted cherry tomatoes and red onions on a ciabatta roll.”
That was then, however, and this is 2023, where $9.99 will buy you what looks like one of those sandwiches United would serve you on short-hop domestic flights, if social media photos are to be believed.
— Brian DeLuca (@bdeluca03) February 19, 2023
This, mind you, costs the same as a whole pizza does at the food court.
“10 dollars? Is it the same size as the pizza?” one Reddit user responded.
Other users were similarly aghast.
“I’d say it’s about 1.5 ciabatta rolls worth with that [calorie] count not worth imo,” another replied. “I think this might be market testing to see if people will buy more expensive food court items.”
“They removed references for anyone to determine physical size…. You’re welcome,” another said.
“$10 for a single-serve, individual item doesn’t seem to fit in well with the rest of their lineup,” another said. “I would expect this to be a poor seller and get scratched from the lineup quickly. Especially considering this is more than 2x the cost of the turkey/pesto.”
“Only slightly more expensive than two whole rotisserie chickens…” said another.
Keep in mind that this isn’t the first time prices have gone up at Costco’s food court under President Joe Biden.
Last July, prices on several items on the menu went up by as much as a third. The chicken bake increased from $2.99 to $3.99, and even soda was up by 10 cents from $0.59 to $0.69.
This is nothing like a $10 roast beef sandwich, however — which is why people are sitting up and taking notice.
So, is it a test? Will it be rolled out at other locations? It’s hard to say, but it’s a sign that the days of cheap Costco fare may be coming to a close.
Yes, former Costco CEO Jim Sinegal famously threatened current Costco CEO W. Craig Jelinek when Jelinek complained about how the hot dog was losing too much money for the company, even though food is a loss-leader, as reported by 425 Business.
“If you raise [the price of] the effing hot dog, I will kill you,” Sinegal said. “Figure it out.”
But that’s just the hot dog. According to Business Insider’s report, a Redditor said he had visited the store a few days prior and was told the sandwich was already “out of stock.”
When the Business Insider reporter called the store Wednesday afternoon, however, a food court employee told her that 29 were in stock. So, apparently, they weren’t quite as adept at selling people on a $10 hoagie then.
It’s only a matter of time, however, with inflation still persistently high and food prices increasingly volatile. “Figure it out” just won’t cut it in 2023 — even with loss-leaders at the Costco food court.
In other words, the $10 Costco roast beef sandwich may be confined to the Seattle suburbs now, but don’t expect it to stay there.
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