The Costco Alcohol Fact That You May Not Have Realized

Alcohol section at Costco
Alcohol section at Costco - Trong Nguyen/Shutterstock

Maybe you're making a special dinner at home for your partner. Maybe you're hosting the holidays at your home. Maybe you're looking for a gift, planning a party, or just stocking up. Regardless of the situation, you could find your way to a stuffy, dimly-lit liquor store or a sophisticated wine shop where everything seems to be way out of your price range. Or, if you're like many savvy shoppers, you can head to the wine, liquor, and beer aisles at your local Costco. Turns out, quite a lot of people choose that latter option.

In fact, Costco is the largest alcohol retailer in the world, with Forbes estimating its alcohol sales to have been between $6.5 billion and $7 billion in 2023. A little more than 25% of those billions were in spirits and a little under 25% for beer, with wine making up almost 50% of that staggering revenue. And even though Forbes found the wholesaler's U.S. sales of wine and spirits were recently eclipsed by Total Wine & More, Costco is still a top choice for filling your shopping basket with booze — because there are many factors helping those sales stay sky-high.

Read more: 26 Popular Vodka Brands, Ranked By Their Versatility

Shoppers Are Spending Billions On Booze

Kirkland Signature wine in case
Kirkland Signature wine in case - The Image Party/Shutterstock

Worldwide, the retailer boasts 876 locations, with 604 of those in the U.S. and Puerto Rico (although one of Costco's changes in 2024 is to open even more stores). In the U.S., around two-thirds of Costco stores sell beer and wine, and one-third of U.S. stores across 33 states and Washington D.C. stock spirits on their shelves. In 11 states, you can get that booze delivered directly to your door, and there are even a few standalone Costco liquor stores, but only in Alberta, Canada.

It isn't just convenience contributing to those sales numbers, though. Costco also makes its mark on the drinks market by offering alcohol at discount prices. In many alcohol retailers, you'll find prices marked up from the wholesale price as much as 50%, but Costco keeps its prices at only around a 14% markup.

That saving alone could cover the annual membership cost (depending on how often you buy bargain booze, of course), but even if you haven't joined the retailer's ranks, you might still be able to reap the benefits of the discount alcohol aisles. In 14 states, laws prohibit Costco from restricting alcohol sales to just its card carriers, which means that if you reside in one of those happy handful, like California, New York, or Colorado, all you have to do to buy a bottle is tell your cashier you're cardless and you'll be checked out with a skeleton card.

The Kirkland Signature Label Is Only The Start Of The Stock

Tequila bottles on Costco shelf
Tequila bottles on Costco shelf - The Image Party/Shutterstock

Costco's own brand, Kirkland Signature (which gets its name from the store's original headquarters in Kirkland, Washington), carries a huge range of alcohol that could easily keep your bar stocked on its own — everything from vodka to gin and small-batch bourbon to tequila. And even though these are discount, grocery store bottles, there are some well-known brands behind the Kirkland products, which probably keeps shoppers coming back. Although identifying the brands behind the booze is often based on internet rumors, Californian bottling firm Alexander Murray & Company is known to supply Costco, so it likely sources Kirkland Scotch whisky from a luxury brand in Scotland. The rum is probably distilled partially by St. Croix-based Cruzan, and it's thought the vodka is distilled from the same water source as Grey Goose.

Kirkland Signature is far from the only alcohol brand at Costco, though, so if your tastes are more luxurious, you can buy wines in the thousands of dollars. You also might be able to scour the shelves for a bottle of hard-to-find bourbons at Costco, like Blanton's single barrel. Even apart from discounts and convenience, the sheer selection of alcohol is likely to keep Costco's sales numbers up.

Read the original article on Daily Meal