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Costco is bringing back its free samples

Posted at 11:01 AM, May 28, 2021

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — One of the best parts about shopping at Costco is returning soon.

The chain of membership-only big-box stores is bringing back free samples after getting rid of them early in the COVID-19 pandemic, according to multiple reports, including CNN and USA Today.

Richard Galanti, CFO and executive vice president of Costco, reportedly said in an earnings call Thursday that the retailer will begin phasing free food samples back into stores in the first week of June. He said they’ll start with about 170 stores of the nearly 560 U.S. locations.

There will be some changes to the way the samples are handed out though, because COVID-19 is still a threat. Galanti said the samples will be prepared behind plexiglass, made in smaller batches, and given to customers one at a time.

Costco is also making some changes to its food court. Galanti said stores are bringing back indoor seating, but it will be reduced and there will be more physical distancing. Some locations will also have outdoor seating.

These changes come a couple of weeks after Costco joined with other retailers in loosening its face mask restrictions. On May 14, the chain said its customers and employees no longer need to wear a face covering in its stores if they are fully vaccinated, except in locations where state and local regulations still call for them.

These loosened restrictions have become a trend in the U.S. following the announcement from the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks in most settings, and “you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”