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Costco is postponing a potential increase in membership dues as its renewal rates hit an all-time high in the fourth quarter.

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“In terms of membership dues and possible increases, there are currently no specific plans to increase dues,” Costco CFO Richard Galanti said during the company’s earnings call on Thursday. “We are pleased with our growth in both core sales and household membership over the past few quarters, as well as member loyalty, which is reflected in an increase in membership renewals.”

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PRICE COSTCO WHOLESALE CORPORATION. 466.40 -20.77 -4.26%

At the end of the fourth quarter, Costco membership renewals were 92.6% in the US and Canada and 90.4% worldwide, compared to 92.3% and 90% in the previous quarter, respectively.

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As of the end of the fourth quarter, the company had 65.8 million paying households and 118.9 million cardholders, up 6.5% from a year ago. Paid executive membership was 29.1 million, up 1.2 million from the third quarter. Currently, executive members make up over 44% of Costco’s membership and just under 72% of its worldwide sales.

SUPPLY CHAIN ​​PROBLEMS AND A BILLION DOLLAR BLACK MARKET FUEL INFLATION

Historically, Costco has raised membership fees approximately every five and a half years. Galanti noted that there were an average of five years and seven months between the last three promotions. The company, which last raised its membership fees in June 2017, currently charges $120 a year for executive memberships and $60 a year for Gold Star and business memberships.

“If you look at June 17th plus five years and seven months, you get roughly January 23rd,” Galanti said. “Now I am not suggesting that it be January 23rd. I’m just saying it hasn’t happened yet, anyway. And we believe that we are confident in our ability to do so. And at some point we will, but it’s a question of when, not if.”

“Given inflation and recession worries, we are quite comfortable managing sales and profits the way we are now, and we still have that arrow in our quiver as we go forward,” he added.

Costco reported net income of $1.868 billion, or $4.20 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter, compared to $1.67 billion, or $3.76 per diluted share, in the same period last year. Net sales rose 15.2% to $70.76 billion from $61.44 billion in the same period a year ago. Membership revenue for the quarter was $1.3 billion, up from $1.2 billion a year ago.

The comments come as Walmart-owned Sam’s Club prepares to raise the club’s annual membership fee for the first time in nine years and Plus’ annual membership fee for the first time since its introduction in 1999. Beginning October 17, the annual membership fee will be $50 for club members and $110 for Plus members, up from $45 and $100, respectively.

“We are mindful of the financial pressure on wallets right now. So, this year’s update is upon us,” Sam’s Club CEO Kat Maclay said in a notice to customers. “We are refunding $5 Sam’s Cash to club members and $10 Sam’s Cash to Plus members shortly after renewal.”

Sam's club logo

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TDC WALMART INC. 130.15 -3.21 -2.41%

Earlier this month, the Labor Department reported that the consumer price index rose 8.3% in August compared to last year. Prices have risen 0.1% in a month-to-month period since July.

While Galanti said Costco’s overall price inflation was about 8% in the fourth quarter due to pressure from higher commodity prices, higher wages, higher transportation costs and supply chain disruptions, he noted that in some areas have seen little improvement.

“We are seeing a decrease in prices for some commodities, such as gas, steel, beef, compared to last year, even small changes in the cost of plastics. We are seeing some price reductions for containers,” Galanti said. “Wages still seem to be the only thing that is still relatively higher. But overall, there are some rudiments of light at the end of this tunnel.”