When will Costco's free samples return? The store just made a big announcement

Costco says free samples will likely return next month, but the COVID-19 pandemic will affect how they're handed out.
Inside A Costco Wholesale Corp. Location As Earnings Figures Are Released
Free food samples are a popular part of the Costco shopping experience.Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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/ Source: TODAY
By Chrissy Callahan

It's been a while since Costco shoppers have been able to snack on as many free samples as their hearts desired while browsing the retailer's massive aisles, but it looks like some of those tasty treats are about to make a comeback.

After suspending food sampling over coronavirus concerns back in March, Costco stores are now planning to reintroduce the popular shopping perk soon, however, the typical grab-and-go experience customers have grown accustomed to will likely be replaced by a more orderly process.

“We're going to start doing some things in mid-June on a slow rollout basis in sampling,” Costco CFO Richard Galanti announced during the company's quarterly earnings call Thursday. “I can't tell you any more, but needless to say it’s not going to be where you go and just pick up an open sample with your fingers."

When reached by TODAY Food, a Costco representative declined to comment on the timeline or specific details surrounding the return of samples.

Fans of the store are already speaking out and they seem to have pretty mixed opinions about the news.

Some consider the return of samples a cause for celebration.

But others aren't looking forward to wading through those sample crowds.

Some on social media were curious to know how shoppers will be able to eat while wearing a mask since the store currently requires all shoppers to wear face coverings.

In recent weeks, Costco has also made several changes to its food courts, including offering a limited menu of items and implementing takeout-only service. With food samples returning soon, the store is now taking the first step to beefing up its food court offerings once again.

"We've added some, but not all, (of) the items back as of now," Galanti said during the call.

Like many retailers, Costco has taken several preventative safety measures over the last few months to protect its staff and shoppers from COVID-19. In an effort to limit crowding, the company announced it would only allow two people per membership card to enter the store in April. Those guidelines have since been lifted.

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Costco recently returned to its regular store hours after closing early for several weeks, and the store has also offered shoppers who are over 60 and those with disabilities a private shopping hour during the week. In addition, the company has allowed health care workers and first responders to move to the front of the line to enter stores.