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Walmart-Owned Sam’s Club to Raise Membership Price For First Time in 9 Years

The Walmart-owned Sam’s Club will raise its membership fee for the first time in nine years — in another example of inflation ripping through the retail sector.

Starting Oct. 17, annual membership fees will go from $45 to 50, marking the first fee change to its basic membership in nine years. Fees for the warehouse’s premium “Plus” membership will increase from $100 to $110 a year, the first price increase since this tier of membership launched in 1999.

In a letter to Sam’s Club members, which was shared with FN, Sam’s Club president and CEO Kath McLay announced the price hikes and said the warehouse would give $5 back in credit to club members and $10 back to Plus members to cover the cost of their renewal this year.

“We are mindful of the financial pressure on wallets right now,” McLay wrote. “So, this year’s renewal is on us.”

The news comes as prices continue to soar across various categories. But while consumer prices were up 8.5% in July from a year ago, inflation has begun to show signs of cooling from a 40-year high of 9.1% in June.

As a warehouse club known for its value, Sam’s Club should be poised to benefit from consumers looking for cheaper options. Walmart operates close to 600 Sam’s Club stores across the U.S. and in Puerto Rico.

Walmart recently beat expectations for earnings and revenues in Q2, after it slashed its outlook for the quarter in July amid a softening in consumer spending, especially in discretionary categories like apparel. Walmart also recently said it would be cutting a number of corporate jobs.

The big-box store, like other retailers this quarter, has found itself with higher-than-usual levels of inventory as a result of delayed orders from Q1 and Q2 that have only recently arrived, compounding existing orders for the season. On top of that, consumers have drastically shifted spending away from discretionary categories, leaving Walmart with excesses in categories like apparel.

In a call with investors announcing results for the second quarter, Walmart CFO John Rainey said the company has “canceled billions in orders” to deal with inventory pileups that have amassed over the last few quarters.

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