Dive Brief:

  • Sam’s Club will be raising its membership fees this fall for the first time in nearly a decade, President and CEO Kathryn McLay wrote Wednesday in a note to customers.
  • Fees will rise from $45 to $50 for a basic club membership, while the cost of a “Plus” membership will increase from $100 to $110. 
  • The increases comes as club retailers are recording stronger foot traffic than they saw before the pandemic began.

Dive Insight:

It has been nine years since Sam’s Club last upped its entry level membership price, and this is the first time its “Plus” membership fee has increased since it was introduced in 1999, McLay wrote in the letter, which was shared on social media.

To soften the blow, customers who renew their membership will receive store credit equivalent to the amount of the increase, McLay said. “We are mindful of the financial pressure on wallets right now. So this year’s renewal increase is on us,” she wrote.

The increase in membership fees brings Sam’s Club significantly closer to rival Costco’s membership prices of $60 a year for a basic club plan and $120 a year for a premium membership. Costco indicated in May that it had no immediate plans to raise its fees.

BJ’s Wholesale Club charges $55 for a basic membership.

Sam’s Club is preparing to raise its membership fees as the Walmart-owned retailer, along with Costco and BJ’s, are are seeing strong interest from shoppers. Foot traffic at Sam’s Club was up more than 10% in July compared with the same period in 2019, the highest level among the three companies, according to data from Placer.ai.

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