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the first time: Why Costco is selling gold bars and silver coins

 





Costco locked in $1.50 hot dog-soda loyalists. Now, it’s chasing a different clientele: precious metal investors and collectors.

Costco recently started selling silver coins for the first time, finance chief Richard Galanti told CNN.

The company is selling 25-count tubes of 1 oz. Canada Maple Leaf Silver Coins online for $675. The front of the coins features a maple leaf, and King Charles III is on the back. The coins are non-refundable, and members can purchase a maximum of five.

Costco is trying to replicate its recent success with gold bars. It began selling $2,000 gold bars online in September and sold more than $100 million worth of the bars last quarter.

But Costco’s move is more about marketing than just about increasing sales. After all, not many people are actually stashing away gold bars in their homes.

It’s selling precious metals to try to reinforce its “treasure hunt” brand image where it peppers its stores with unexpected, limited-time items to keep shoppers coming back.

People roam the aisles of an independent bookstore in the Winter Garden Downtown Historic District, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023, in Winter Garden, Fla.

“We try to create an attitude that, if you see it, you ought to buy it because chances are it ain’t going to be there next time,” Costco’s founder once said. “That’s the treasure-hunt aspect. We constantly buy that stuff and intentionally run out of it from time to time.”

Costco is also selling precious metals as they become more valuable. Gold prices have notched record highs this week. Silver futures are up 21% in the past year.

Precious metal prices have gone up because investors are betting that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates in the back half of the year.

Gold and silver are considered to be one of the most resilient investments. When interest rates fall, holding income-paying assets (like bonds) becomes less appealing than owning the precious metals. When interest rates are low, falling or — as in this case — expected to fall, demand for Treasury bonds ebbs, and precious metals, which don’t pay out any interest, become relatively more attractive.

Some investors also believe them to be a hedge against inflation, wagering that they will hold their value even if it begins to surge, even though metals face price fluctuations like any other commodity.

Costco’s success in selling the metals comes as the company continues to report strong profits from the pandemic in 2020, when customers rushed to stores to load up on groceries and household staples. Millions of first-time customers signed up for club memberships during the pandemic and have held on to them, pushing Costco’s member rolls to all-time highs.

Shares of Costco (COST) have rallied 60% over the past year.

Costco reported quarterly earnings Thursday. The company’s sales at stores open for at least one year increased 5.6%, but fell short of analyst forecasts.

Costco said inflation was roughly flat during the quarter, which allowed it to reduce prices on some items.

Galanti told analysts on a call Thursday that Costco cut reading glasses, for example, from $18.99 to $16.99 and cut a 48-count of batteries from $17.99 to $15.99.

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