Costco is known for selling daily necessities in big packages, from toilet paper to coffee. But now it’s edging into a category also viewed as a essential by some investors and survivalists: gold.
The discount retailer said this week that it has started selling 1-ounce bars of gold, but that demand is so strong that it can’t keep them in stock even with a limit of two bars per member. The company is selling two types of bars: a 1-ounce gold PAMP Suisse Lady Fortuna Veriscan bar, which bears the imprint of a silhouette of the goddess of fortune with a cornucopia, and a 1-ounce bar from South Africa’s Rand Refinery, stamped with an elephant design.
Both bars are about half an inch long. The PAMP Suisse bar is registered and comes with a digital certificate that can be accessed with a QR code, while the Rand bars come with their own serial numbers.
Gone in hours
Because Costco’s e-commerce site lists the bars as unavailable as of Thursday morning, the price isn’t currently listed, although the PAMP bar is selling for about $1,980 while the Rand bar is sold for about $1,950, according to Yahoo Finance.
“I’ve gotten a couple of calls that people have seen online that we’ve been selling one ounce gold bars,” said Costco Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti on an investor call this week. “Yes, but when we load them on the site, they’re typically gone within a few hours and we limit two per member.”
Gold has long been viewed by investors as a hedge against inflation as well as a source of financial stability when stock and bond markets are volatile. Over the past five years, the price of gold has jumped 57%, compared with a 47% rise in the broad-based S&P 500 stock index during the same period.
The Costco bars are selling for slightly more than the spot price of gold, which stood at $1,875 an ounce on Thursday, according to financial data firm FactSet.
Costco customers appear to be fans of the product, with some noting that the prices were lower than those available at other retailers. Other reviewers pointed out that buyers with Costco credit cards and executive memberships can get a combined 4% cash back on their gold purchase.
“I was surprised that Costco was selling physical gold. I hope we can somehow find out when it becomes available again. It sold out very quickly!” one buyer wrote in a 5-star review. “Costco’s solid gold reputation made it an easy and secure purchase. I’m not sure i would trust just any dealer, tbh.”