Few chains in America are as insistent on and sensitive to keeping prices low than Costco. For their famed $4.99 rotisserie chickens, the wholesale club went so far as to build their own processing facility (which, unfortunately, has led to allegations of chicken mistreatment). And when rumors spread earlier this year that the chain might increase the price of their food court hot-dog-and-soda special which has been $1.50 since the mid-1980s, a Costco senior vice president addressed it in an earnings call, insisting, "We have no plans to increase the price at this time."
But though the price of some items may be completely off limits, apparently, that's not true for all items: Costco has reportedly raised the price of two other food court mainstays.
Costco's chicken bake — basically, chicken and cheese stuffed in a pastry crust — has seen its price jump from $2.99 to $3.99, while the price of a 20-ounce soda is up 10 cents to $0.69. The site Business Insider noticed the increases in Rochester, New York, before contacting workers in other locations who stated that these were nationwide changes. The Los Angeles Times also confirmed the price increases at multiple locations across L.A. county. On the bright side, as promised, the price of the hot dog and soda deal has remained the same.
But even employees were apparently caught off guard. "I was surprised, 'cause they never do increases on the items," Georgina Gomez, who works at a Los Angeles Costco and has been with the company for 25 years, told the Times. "Once they're out, that's usually the price they keep."
That said, price hikes somewhere in the store were probably inevitable. As Business Insider points out, inflation on grocery prices hit 14.6 percent for the month of May according to the firm Numerator, with even wholesale clubs specifically seeing inflation reach seven percent. Meanwhile, soda prices alone are reportedly up 13 percent compared to last year, according to Wells Fargo. Also, whereas Costco may be producing their own hot dogs through the Kirkland brand, their sodas are provided by Pepsi, meaning it's possible pricing may be somewhat out of their hands.
But keep in mind, Costco is the same company where one of its co-founders reportedly once threatened to kill the CEO if he raised hot dog prices. So, yeah, even a 10-cent price hike on sodas can potentially be considered a life-or-death decision.