Visualizing Costco’s Global Presence
Costco is a membership-based retail chain founded in 1983 in Seattle, Washington. Best known for its unique warehouse stores and high-quality products, Costco offers everything from electronics to groceries.
Since its founding, Costco has become a major retailer in the U.S., while also greatly expanding its international presence. As of August 2023, the company has 859 locations globally, with a split of 69% domestic (591 stores) and 31% international (268 stores).
In this graphic, we’ve visualized Costco’s global presence with a treemap diagram.
Number of Costco Stores Worldwide
The following table lists the number of Costco stores by country, as of Aug. 17, 2023.
|Country||Number of locations|
|🇳🇿 New Zealand||1|
From this data we can see that Costco’s biggest non-U.S. markets are Canada, Mexico, and Japan.
In fact, Costco’s first non-U.S. location was opened near Vancouver, British Columbia in 1985. The company expanded to Mexico several years later in 1992, and then Japan in 1999.
Costco has recently turned its attention to China, opening four stores in areas around Shanghai since 2019. Reception was overwhelmingly positive—as CNBC reported, massive crowds at the grand opening of Costco’s first store forced an early closure. The company is planning to grow its Chinese presence even further, with new locations planned for Hangzhou, Shenzhen, and Nanjing.
For context, Costco is hardly the first U.S. retail chain to break into the Chinese market. Walmart first expanded to China in 1996 with a store in Shenzhen, and as of January 2023, operates 365 stores in the country.
The Sweden and New Zealand locations both opened in 2022, showing that Costco’s international expansion is still very much underway.
Number of Costco Stores by State
Focusing on the U.S., here are the number of locations in each state.
|State||Number of Stores|
|District of Columbia||1|
America’s most populous state, California, leads the nation with 134 locations (23% of total). This is likely due to Costco’s business strategy, which relies more on membership fees and sales volume rather than high markups on products. According to analysis by Forbes, the average markup at Costco is estimated to be 11%, while at Walmart it stands at 24%.
This may explain why Maine, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Wyoming do not have any Costco locations. Most of these states are relatively low in population density, with the exception of Rhode Island which is very small geographically.
Editor’s note: According to local news sources, Maine is set to receive its first Costco location later in 2023.
While Costco locations in the U.S. often take the form of a traditional warehouse with ample surface level parking, some stores in other countries break from that formula.
In the Santa Fe neighborhood of Mexico City, the retail space and parking of the Costco lies below ground, while the roof of the building acts as an extension to the adjacent park, featuring sports fields and a green roof.
Vancouver, Canada, is home to an urban Costco, which blends into its high density surroundings and is capped by multiple condo towers.
While the price of the company’s famous hot dog and soda combo may stay the same, the company continues to adapt to changing preferences and new locales.