Leah Panapa: At what cost will Costco come?

Opinion 17/06/2019

By Leah Panapa, Magic Talk Nights host.

The Worlds second largest retailer is coming to New Zealand.

The membership-only United States-headquartered bulk discounter Costco will be built on Aucklands north-western fringe and promises a shopping experience kiwis have never seen before.

Famous for being 25-30 percent cheaper than its competitors and offering an eclectic mix of products ranging from electronics to a fuel station and homewares to coffins, what’s not to love?

It will be a retailer of gargantuan proportions.

It is planned to be approximately 14,000 sq metres in area, roughly 2 rugby fields, offer 800 carparks and create an estimated 350 full time jobs. Building is to commence in the next 12 months with the plan of opening in 2021.

This girl loves a bargain and when in the mood, can shop for hours but I wonder if we have the population for a retailer this size and what it will do the smaller players in the market.

Competition is good and New Zealand has suffered for many years with duopolies but I wonder if going the way of the American route where ‘big and more is best’ is the answer?

Our closest neighbour to embrace Costco is Australia who now boasts 11 stores – there are 750 worldwide – it costs $A60 to become a member that unlocks all the discounts, the same will occur here.

As yet the cost of an annual membership hasn’t been announced.

Globally Costco has an almost unparalleled buying power and to be fair a formidable reputation to drive down prices, so for customers it can mean more choice and better prices.

I asked my listeners if they were excited by the news and one man from Canterbury told me he regularly makes trips to the US to go specifically to Costco and buy up large!

He particularly loves their home brand of socks and swears they are the best so he brings them home by the caseload and shares them with friends and family. But some are concerned that with more products comes more waste and that is something I am worried about as well.

Warehouses filled with packaging and products that - lets face it – eventually end up in the landfills.

While I may not venture to Costco I hope they stock the special socks my listener from Canterbury loves so he can save on airfare to America.

Leah Panapa is host of Magic Talk Nights.