We visited Costco stores in the both the US and UK and were shocked by just how similar the shopping experience is on both sides of the Atlantic

Costco.
Costco store in Rochester. Mohammad Khursheed/REUTERS
  • We visited Costco locations in the US and UK.
  • The shopping experience was near identical on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • The main difference we found was in the food assortment. 

We visited Costco in Rochester, New York to see how it compares to the big box store’s UK locations.
Costco.
Costco. Mohammad Khursheed/REUTERS
As we walked in, a greeter at the door reminds people to have their membership cards out. We walked by the membership center, where potential customers can join.
Costco photo tour Rochester NY membership
Walking past the carts and greeters, we entered the gigantic Costco warehouse.
Costco photo tour Rochester NY
In my location, large electronics are on display near the entrance, with TVs stacked up on huge shelves.
Costco photo tour Rochester NY
There’s never just one of any item, they seem to keep going almost endlessly.
Costco photo tour Rochester NY
Ceilings are extremely high, and stocks of products extend nearly all the way up. Many of the largest products at Costco are located along this side wall.
Costco tour Rochester NY
You could outfit an entire home from the appliances in Costco, including washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers, and more.
Costco tour Rochester NY
Then there are dozens of types of smaller appliances, like toaster ovens, coffee makers, and Instant Pots.
Costco tour Rochester NY
Finally, along this wall there are mattresses.
Costco tour Rochester NY
Then, we finally made our way to the food. Brand name snacks mostly made up the center displays, sitting on pallets.
Costco tour Rochester NY
Products are loosely organized by type, like snacks with snacks or baked goods with baked goods, but it’s so overwhelming that it’s good to come in with a game plan.
Costco tour Rochester NY
For the most part, every section is inside the main warehouse itself, but dairy and some fruits and vegetables have their own separate sections off the main area.
Costco tour Rochester NY
The rooms are like a smaller version of the main area, with shelves along the walls and pallets in the center. The room is kept colder than the rest of the store to keep produce fresh.
Costco tour Rochester NY
Some staples always seem to be available in the produce section, while others change out seasonally.
Costco tour Rochester NY
Back out in the main warehouse is the bakery with fresh and packaged goods.
Costco tour Rochester NY
Fresh baked goods are displayed right in front of the kitchen.
Rochester Costco photo tour
You can look back behind the counter and see the bakery employees preparing more products.
Rochester Costco photo tour
You can also buy custom cakes and order them in store.
Rochester Costco photo tour
The rest of the back wall next to the bakery is a deli and meat counter.
Rochester Costco photo tour
This is where you can find the chain’s famous $US5 ($AU7) rotisserie chickens.
Rochester Costco photo tour
Rows and rows of refrigerated cases hold more meat products.
Rochester Costco photo tour
More freezer aisles hold butter, cheese, and some refrigerated prepared meals.
Rochester Costco photo tour
Costco changes out inventory to go with the season, in this case a cannoli kit, macarons, and other holiday dishes to share.
Rochester Costco photo tour
Other displays clearly show we’re getting into December and the holiday season with sparkling grape juice and hot cocoa.
Rochester Costco photo tour
The rest of that side of the store is aisles of food and drinks.
Rochester Costco photo tour
Huge freezers are full of frozen meals, desserts, and other dishes.
Rochester Costco photo tour
The dairy room is also off of this section of the store.
Rochester Costco photo tour
Back in the center of the store are more non-food items.
Rochester Costco photo tour
There are rows and rows of coats, sweatshirts, leggings, sweatpants, and other clothing for men, women, and children.
Rochester Costco photo tour
It doesn’t stop there. Just about everything you could possibly need is probably available at Costco.
Rochester Costco photo tour
There are mega packs of batteries…
Rochester Costco photo tour
…the newest Phones…
Rochester Costco photo tour
…and Christmas decor.
Rochester Costco photo tour
Another small section has flowers and pre-made bouquets.
Rochester Costco photo tour
Beyond the flowers, Costco has a few mini-stores with services inside, including the pharmacy here.
Rochester Costco photo tour
An optical section looks like any standalone eyeglasses store, with hundreds of pairs to try on.
Rochester Costco photo tour
There’s also a hearing aid center for customers.
Rochester Costco photo tour
From there we went to get in line to checkout. The line always extends out into the aisles.
Rochester Costco photo tour
There are probably about 15 checkout lanes staffed by Costco workers, plus a few self-checkout lanes.
Rochester Costco photo tour
There are all kinds of boxes around checkout to help you carry all your purchases to your car.
Costco photo tour Rochester NY boxes
Just past the checkout lanes, the food court sells food and drinks, and tables have returned since early COVID restrictions.
Rochester Costco photo tour
Next, we headed to a Costco store in South London’s Croydon on an icy December evening.
Costco London store
This was our first visit to a Costco store in the UK and on first impression, the layout was almost identical to its US equivalent. The first area I encountered was Costco’s in-house opticians where you can buy eyeglasses, lenses, and have eye tests done.
Costco London store
The front of the store was similarly home to large appliances and electronics such as fridges, stoves, and TVs.
Costco London store
Close by was a large assortment of seasonal products such as Christmas trees and decorations that customers could easily access as they entered the store, along with the odd wild card such as hot tubs.
Costco London
All the pricier items seemed to be located directly at the front of the store, making it impossible for shoppers to miss them.
Costco London store
As I headed deeper into the store, it became apparent just how giant this location was.
Costco London
Products were stacked up sky-high on shelves and the breadth of the assortment was unlike any other store I have been to.
Costco London store
Next, I headed to the grocery section, which was right at the back of the store.
Costco London
Similar to the US store, there was a separate room dedicated to fresh produce, which is considerably chillier to keep groceries fresh.
Costco London
Costco’s widely popular rotisserie chickens were in a prominent place, costing £3.99, matching the US’ $US5 ($AU7) version.
Costco London
It was in the food section that it became most apparent that the assortment does differ in US and UK Costcos. Here we spotted lots of British meat.
Costco London
And local favorites such as Victoria sponge cake or Cornish clotted cream.
Costco London
But there was a good assortment of international cuisine too – ready-made curries, Spanish tortillas, and ramen, for example.
Costco London
We spotted some household US names too.
Costco London
Costco’s widely popular Kirkland brand products could be seen all around the store, including Kirkland wines that cost under $US20 ($AU29).
Costco London
Mountains of cheap clothing, books, and children’s toys were piled up on tables in the center of the store.
Costco London
I spotted basics from well-known brands such as Under Armour and Puma in this fairly chaotic mix.
London Costco
As I headed toward the checkout, I passed by rows of snack foods tactfully positioned to tempt shoppers en route.
London Costco
Beauty and healthcare products took up a large area next to the checkout too.
Costco London
And in the distance, the bright lights of the food court beckoned.
Costco London
Along with its signature £1.50 ($US2 ($AU3)) hot dog that’s served with a soda, you could pick up pizza slices, a chicken sandwich, and the old UK favorite: cottage pie, a dish with minced beef and mashed potato.
Costco London
As customers lined up to show their sales slips to exit the store, Costco made one last push to market other member services such as discounted car hire or life insurance.
Costco London
There was also a place to buy tires (or tyres) and have punctures repaired.
Costco London
Overall, the shopping experience at the two stores was near identical aside from some key differences in the food goods on offer so die-hard fans on either side of the Atlantic can rest easy knowing that they’re not missing out.
Costco London