Costco Just Made Another Change To Its Hours. Here's Why

Costco has had some ups and downs over the course of the past few months, to be sure. From being swarmed with panicking shoppers preparing for sheltering in place as if it were a zombie apocalypse to ugly fights and boycotts over mandatory mask-wearing, the retailer has been struggling to stay on top of what seem to be almost-daily changes in the grocery shopping zeitgeist.

While not all of the changes they introduced in an attempt to keep shoppers safe were all that well-received (such as a short-lived two-person limit that was pretty tough on families), one change that was generally regarded as a good thing was their instituting special shopping hours just for seniors. While Costco's not getting rid of those hours entirely, the company website admits these are soon to be cut back. Instead of having a special senior shopping period every weekday, starting on July 13 60+ shopping will be down to just twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Costco is easing its way back into business as usual

Although Costco's not exactly trumpeting its cutbacks with great fanfare, this change wasn't unexpected. As Naveen Jaggi, president of retail advisory services at brokerage firm JLL, told USA Today last month, he fully expected "specialized hours for different age demographics to also cease" once most stores resumed pre-pandemic operations. Depending on work or home schedules, there may be many non-senior Costco shoppers for whom 9 a.m. is the only workable time frame, and it's been a serious inconvenience for them to have to wait until 10 a.m. to shop.

There is one change Costco is making that may give senior and not-so-senior shoppers alike cause to rejoice, though – Bloomberg reports that free samples are back! Well, sort of. So far, they're only available in just 30 stores nationwide, and samples are limited to prepackaged items handed out by masked and gloved workers behind plexiglass shields. While Costco may never go back to being that free-for-all buffet at which the nerviest, most determined shoppers could make an entire meal, still, it's a tiny step back towards normality. As Costco Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti puts it, "We are seeing what works. There are plans to continue to roll it out. We will see." Even if your Costco isn't rolling out the freebies, there's still no need to shop hungry, though. The food courts have all reopened and that's good news for Costco members young and old.