Craig Jelinek, CEO of Costco, told CNBC on Monday that the company's physical stores will continue to be of vital importance, despite the wholesaler seeing a surge in e-commerce sales during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Our entire online business will continue to grow. Will we be difficult? No, we won't," said Jelinek to "Closing Bell". "We will simply continue to attach great importance to high-quality goods and quality goods and deliver them either via the warehouse, stationary trade or electronic trade."
Before the pandemic, Costco had made a name for itself for its personal shopping experience, with cheap items on its food court like the hot dog and soda combo for $ 1.50. However, many Costco members turned to their website this year, resulting in strong online sales growth that many competitors saw as well.
For the 13 week period ending November 29, Costco's total comparable revenue increased 14.5%. In particular, e-commerce increased by 82% compared to the same period in the previous year. A similar trend emerged in the company's fourth quarter. Online sales increased 91% over the previous year.
"We will continue to grow this business," said Jelinek, noting some of the technology investments the company had made. In March, for example, Costco acquired $ 1 billion worth of Innovel Solutions, which provides last-mile delivery services. It was owned by the company that has Sears and Kmart businesses.
"We see a great opportunity to build our last mile business with large ticket items and bulk items. … Our clothing business continues to grow online," added Jelinek.
Even so, it remains an essential part for the retailer to have members shop in the store, Jelinek said. "It's still important to physically get people into stores. I still think brick and mortar retail isn't going to go away. We want to keep getting people into stores, and there is no better way to do it than a $ 1.50 price. " Dog and a Roast Chicken "for $ 4.99, he said.
During the pandemic, Costco saw customers stock up on items like toilet paper, which resulted in a limit on the number of purchases. Jelinek said Costco began monitoring some of shoppers' inventory behavior this fall as coronavirus cases rise in the U.S. and state and local officials reintroduce public health restrictions. However, he said it was "not quite as much" as it was this spring during the first wave of the pandemic.
"They are still buying extra toilet paper, toiletries, and the like to keep making sure they are in place as some of those items … will continue to be a long-term need," Jelinek predicted that some of the increased buying patterns will "likely be in the middle of next year if I had to guess "could persist.
Costco's shares closed the session slightly on Monday at $ 374 apiece. The stock is up 27% since the start of the year.