The Truth About Why Members Are Boycotting Costco

Starting May 4th, bulk-buy haven Costco announced on its website it will require every shopper and associate to wear face coverings to enter all stores. Craig Jelinek, President and CEO of Costco Wholesale said in part in a statement about the new policy that "all Costco members and guests must wear a face covering that covers the mouth and nose, at all times while at Costco. This requirement does not apply to children under the age of 2 or to individuals who are unable to wear a face covering due to a medical condition."

About the reasoning behind the move to require masks, Jelinek went on to acknowledge, "We know some members may find this inconvenient or objectionable, but under the circumstances we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience. This is not simply a matter of personal choice; a face covering protects not just the wearer, but others too."

Although the CDC now recommends that people wear face masks in public to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Costco customers are still upset about the store's new policy. In fact, some are pledging to boycott Costco in response to the face mask requirement.

Costco shoppers call for a boycott in response to the face mask policy

In spite of Costco's new face mask policy echoing the recommendation of the leading health authority in the nation, shoppers are not happy (via Business Insider). It seems many folks remain unconvinced that face masks are an effective way to slow the spread of, or protect themselves against COVID-19. Beyond disagreeing with the science behind Costco's move to require masks in keeping with CDC guidelines, some customers simply object to being told what to do in a climate where many aspects of our daily lives are being mandated by the government, albeit in the name of public safety.

A simple search of the hashtag #boycottcostco on Twitter yields staggering amounts of posts from shoppers who are not taking the store's policy lightly. "Masks are to condition people into unquestioning servitude to the government. We will not patronize any stores who require us to wear an article of clothing in order to conduct commerce," one poster responded via Twitter.

Others went so far as to claim the requirement is unconstitutional. Many tweets proclaimed they would stop spending money at Costco until the policy is changed. Still more tweets echoed this post: "After 20 years of being a member, this will be my last weekend to shop in your store."

Not all Costco shoppers want to stop the face mask policy

Customers also took their frustrations over Costco's face mask policy out on Instagram. "Rethink your face mask policy beginning May 4th!!!! We have been shopping without them prior...I will cancel my membership," one unhappy shopper threatened on the store's Instagram. "What's the deal with the masks? Two months into a pandemic and now masks?" another vented. Other shoppers urged commenters to stop "whining" about the policy, clearly in support of the face mask requirement.

It's worth noting that on both Twitter and Instagram, there were posts expressing support for Costco's face mask policy, and recognizing that the store is making this move to protect its shoppers and workers. It's yet to be seen how the policy will impact store sales and memberships, and if other stores will follow in Costco's footsteps and start requiring shoppers to wear face coverings to enter.

Costco sales falter in the wake of a potential boycott

What is known is that Costco sales fell for the first time in a decade last month according to CNN. In a statement, the company said by way of explanation, "April sales were negatively impacted by COVID-19." The drop is likely a result of fewer gas purchases as people stay home from work and school (and everywhere) due to the pandemic, and less panic-related bulk buying. Because, don't we all have enough toilet paper and paper towels stored up by now? But one has to wonder if the customers who are pledging to boycott Costco will move the needle even more on typically strong sales for the bulk-buying powerhouse. Will their movement gain steam? Or fall flat since, well, members need food and supplies at reasonable prices.

Meanwhile, enough customers are continuing to shop at Costco even with its new face mask requirement, that the store is having to remind people about the ongoing importance of staying at least 6 feet apart. In a new update to their coronavirus store policy, Costco stated, "The use of a face covering should not be seen as a substitute for social distancing. Please continue to observe rules regarding appropriate distancing while on Costco premises. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation."