How Long Does It Take Costco To Restock Their Items?

Costco can seem like a veritable Aladdin's Cave of Wonders. But even this treasure trove sometimes needs to be restocked. And while it may seem like it holds endless merchandise, the average Costco actually carries fewer items than its airplane-hanger size might imply. According to the consumer information site Rather Be Shopping, most Costco locations only stock about 4,000 items in-store, compared to around 10,000 online. For comparison, the average grocery store boasts a dizzying 48,000 items, according to Consumer Reports, while ubiquitous superstore Target stocks a truly mind-bending 80,000 in most of its larger stores (per Reuters). 

All that makes Costco's 4,000 items seem pretty paltry. But Costco is super intentional about what it stocks. There is also a very specific restock schedule. Here's everything you need to know about when you can expect restocks and how to know if the item you need to purchase is in stock.

Costco's restocking schedule

How often a Costco restocks depends on whether it keeps stock in the back of the store or has to wait for shipments. At many locations, essentially the entire footprint of the store is dedicated to shopping space, so there's no storage space out back. That means they have to wait for a new shipment of goods to arrive to restock and you're unlikely to see Costco employees wandering the store restocking during the day the way you might see at a standard supermarket.

But have no fear, the wait for shipments of new goods isn't long at all. Costco gets new shipments every single night, which are then unpacked by the night shift (per Aisle of Shame). Those goods hit the shelves before the store opens in the morning, usually making their way to the shelf between 4 am and the opening hour. So while the time you should be shopping at Costco to avoid crowds is about an hour before closing, that's not the ideal time to avoid empty shelves. To have the best chance of finding popular items in stock, head over early. Additionally, if an item is really important, it's always a good idea to confirm that it's in stock by calling your local store first or by checking online.