The Real Reason Costco Will Never Have Express Checkout Lanes

Ever wait on a long Costco line to buy one or two items? Costco's CEO explained why express checkout lanes aren't available.

Checkout of Costco, Allentown, PA, USA. October 12, 2017.Helen89/Shutterstock

Costco is great for bulk shopping including everything from food and drinks to electronics and prescriptions. But the big thing Costco stores lack isn’t a product or brand-named item—it’s express checkout.

recently asked Costco CEO W. Craig Jelinek some popular questions about the chain store, like if non-members will ever be allowed to shop and if the store will ever sell plus-size clothing. One key question on everyone’s minds? Why Costco doesn’t have express checkout lanes for people buying only one or two items. Jelinek says that an express lane isn’t the most cost-effective idea since so many shoppers are there to buy numerous items in large quantities, like these foods nutritionists always buy from Costco.
“Costco’s ability to sell merchandise at incredibly low prices is based on adhering to various operating disciplines at every turn,” Jelinek says. “Instead of having an express line—that often would be open but without a member in line—we have invested millions of dollars to speed up the entire front-end process.”

Jelinek continues to say that Costco policy indicates no more than one person in line and two behind. According to Jelinek, the average checkout time is just over one minute. Did you know any of these secrets Costco employees won’t tell you?

Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is an associate editor at The Healthy and a former assistant staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her work has appeared online at the Food Network and Well + Good and in print at Westchester Magazine, and more. When she's not writing about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting heavy things at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts, and liking one too many astrology memes.