The 3 US States That Still Don't Have A Costco

As of 2023, there were approximately 861 Costco locations worldwide, with the majority (nearly 600) in the United States. Surprisingly, despite the global presence of Costco stores in countries including Australia, China, France, Iceland, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, and the U.K., three American states have yet to open any.

Until recently, four states had no Costco stores: Maine, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Wyoming. However, Maine residents now have access to the members-only warehouse club through a new store in Scarborough, south of Portland, the state's largest city, which opened in November 2023. There are also plans for a potential opening in Rhode Island, though nothing has been confirmed to date.

Seven more U.S. states — Arkansas, Delaware, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Vermont — host only one Costco store each. On the other end of the spectrum, California boasts the most Costco warehouses, with 136 locations. Three more are expected to open in the state by the end of 2024, each featuring the company's signature food court and budget-friendly hot dogs (which pair great with wine).

How Costco decides where to open warehouse locations

Why does California have so many Costco stores, while other states, like Wyoming, have none? Population is a significant factor. California has the highest population of any U.S. state, while Wyoming has the lowest. However, there's more to the decision-making process.

According to an analytical study published by Medium, Costco prioritizes not just population density but also employment, median household income, and projected population growth within a 20-minute drive of a potential location. Consequently, the company has concentrated many of its stores in California — 23% of its U.S. locations — in Texas, and along the Northeastern corridor between New York City and Washington D.C. 

Costco's methodical approach to selecting new locations means its membership profile is relatively affluent compared to its competitors. This is perhaps not surprising, given its annual membership fees and bulk sales strategy, which tend to attract those with more disposable income. Notably, Costco is also appealing to younger consumers with its wide selection of groceries, electronics, appliances, and furniture, with an average membership age of 39 — though there are ways to shop at Costco without a membership, too.

Where are new Costco stores opening in 2024?

Costco is unlikely to open stores in Rhode Island, West Virginia, or Wyoming solely to have locations in all 50 states. However, there are clearly untapped markets of interest to the massive warehouse chain. 10 new stores are expected to open by the summer of 2024, for example, with the majority (six, to be exact) in California, Florida, and Texas, the top U.S. states by population.

However, population, median age, and income data are not the only factors in Costco's expansion plans. The company's executives also consider sales generated by existing warehouses as indicators for supporting another store. Last year, more than 180 Costco locations worldwide exceeded $300 million in sales, suggesting many of those markets may be ready for expansion. So, if it seems Costco is frequently opening stores in the same few states, it's likely because those locations have shown the best sales performance.