Shoppers flock to the new Costco store in Auckland on opening day

Hundreds of people lined up for the opening of the Costco mega-store in Westgate, Auckland this morning – the retailer’s first store in New Zealand.

The major US retailer is known for its bulk groceries, as well as other items.

An employee told 1News that the doors opened early for security reasons.

“If we let everyone in at once, it’s absolute carnage.”

A keen customer said she was planning to buy a garden shed today. “I just want to see if they are cheaper than Miter 10 and Bunnings.”

She also said she was Christmas shopping this morning and wanted to buy some new glasses.

Another customer said it was quieter than expected and she didn’t have to wait in line.

Piano for sale at Costco, Westgate, Auckland.

Several people told 1News they would definitely return to Costco, but could wait a few weeks until things stabilized.

Costco NZ general manager Patrick Noone told 1News it was an exciting and humbling day to finally be open.

“It’s also the result of hard work by my employees and our suppliers here in New Zealand as well.”

He said he thought Costco would make a decent difference for Aotearoa’s supermarket duopoly.

“It’s nothing but good, you know, competition makes us all work harder and strive to be better, so if we’re all doing this because of more competition, then New Zealanders will win,” Noone said.

“It’s an anchor if you will, it’s our first, so it gives us a lot of opportunities to learn how to run the business here and grow.”

He says prices are hard to gauge, but customers should expect to pay 20-30% less.

Some Costco 'superfans' are camping outside the retailer's West Auckland store ahead of its opening.

“Obviously not all products are like this, but the fresh food, the quality is fantastic and the savings are there too.

“In general merchandise like the clothes you see here, we have all the brands here and they’re all showing great savings compared to what I’ve seen in the market.”

He said that despite inflation, Costco aims to keep the price of everything low.

“A lot of times we work with suppliers to try to increase the size of the packs a bit if we can just ship more goods to reduce the effect of inflation.”

“I don’t know what the inflation rate is in New Zealand, but it certainly affects the selling price here, in Australia and in North America as well.”

Inflation is at 7.3%.

Noone also said Christchurch and Wellington could be options for a second Costco store, but South Auckland also looks “very attractive”.

Asked about Costco’s environmental impact in New Zealand, Noone said he was very aware that the company had a responsibility to produce sustainable packaging.

“We are extremely aware that we have a role as a corporate citizen to reduce packaging as much as possible.”

He said a lot of cardboard is being introduced, but single-use plastics are often hard to avoid, especially in the food and deli space.

“Just look at how we pack things, they’re bigger, you buy more quantity normally, so it requires less packaging.”

People camped outside the store overnight before it opened this morning.

Superfan Poppy Keane and her friends had been camping since 2.30pm yesterday.

When 1News spoke to the group last night, they were in high spirits. They were settled on camp chairs and had yoga mats and mattresses in the car.

“Just Costco superfans and we can’t wait for it to open,” Keane explained.

Keane said they were trying to be the first through the door. She added that they were excited about the store’s range of snacks, especially the seasonings.

She said a member of the Costco fan page would be bringing muffins this morning and some of the workers had to bring coffee.

Another fan, Elesha Bell, grew up in Orange County, California and saw a few Costcols in her day. She said she was looking forward to the variety.

Other fans were waiting in their cars.

The store was originally scheduled to open in mid-August, but that was pushed back due to “unavoidable hurdles”.

Costco operates on a membership system, with costs starting at $55 for a business membership.

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