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What Costco’s Gold Bar Bonanza Tells Us About the Economy

  • Costco's gold bar sales have skyrocketed, reaching up to $200 million per month.
  • Investors are flocking to gold as a safe haven asset amid economic uncertainty and inflation concerns.
  • Costco's aggressive pricing and high level of customer trust have contributed to the surge in gold sales.
Gold Bar

Last December, wholesale retailer Costco announced that they had sold over $100 million worth of gold in Q3 2023.

"You've probably read about the fact that we're selling one-ounce gold bars. We sold over $100 million of gold during the quarter," sad CFO Richard Galenti.

Now, Wells Fargo estimates that Costco "may now be running at" $100 million to $200 million per month in gold sales.

"Our work suggests there has been significant interest given COST’s aggressive pricing and high level of customer trust," said analyst Edward Kelly in a Tuesday note to clients. "The accelerating frequency of Reddit posts, quick on-line sell-outs of product, and COST’s robust monthly eComm sales suggests a sharp uptick in momentum since the launch," CNBC reports.

Costco is selling one-ounce bars made of nearly pure 24-karat gold. While the price is not disclosed online to nonmembers, it’s estimated that the product generally sells for about 2% above the spot price, which as of Tuesday morning was around $2,357 an ounce. That would put the price at Costco just over $2,400.

Sales of Costco gold bars are now limited to five per customer (up from two), while executive members receive 2% back. Those who use their Citigroup credit cards will receive a further 2%.

"Pricing at that level and shipping costs suggests it’s a very low profit business at best," wrote Kelly.

Spot prices for gold have notably been on a tear this year, rising over 13% YTD amid persistent inflation, nearly $35 trillion in national debt (and growing), and investor fears over the state of the 'deteriorating US fiscal situation,' according to the report. 

According to DataTrek co-founder Nicholas Colas, "The move suggests that many foreign governments feel the need to hedge geopolitical outcomes that might be negative catalysts for other risk assets like stocks."

"The only good news is that this reinforces the idea of gold as a reasonable hedge for diversified portfolios," he added.

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