Shoppers flock to new Costco store in Auckland on opening day

Lucy Anderson
Source: 1News

Hundreds of people have lined up for the opening of mega-store Costco in Westgate, Auckland this morning - the retailer's first store in New Zealand.

Some of the first customers inside Costco, Auckland on its opening day.

The large US retailer is known for bulk groceries, as well as other items.

An employee told 1News the doors opened early for safety reasons.

"If we let everyone in at once it's absolute carnage."

One keen shopper said she's planning to buy a garden shed today. "I just want to see if they're cheaper than Mitre 10 and Bunnings."

She also said she's doing her Christmas shopping this morning and wants to buy some new glasses.

Another shopper said it's quieter than expected and she didn't have to wait in line.

Piano for sale in Costco, Westgate, Auckland.

Several people told 1News they'll definitely be coming back to Costco but might wait a few weeks till it settles down.

Costco NZ's managing director Patrick Noone told 1News it’s an exciting and humbling day to finally be open.

"It's also the result of a lot of really hard work by my employees and our vendors here in New Zealand as well."

He said he thinks Costco will make a decent difference to the supermarket duopoly in Aotearoa.

"It's nothing but good you know, competition makes us all work harder and strive to be better so if we all do that because of more competition then the people of New Zealand win," Noone said.

"It's a foothold if you like, it's our first one, so it gives us a lot of opportunity to learn how to run the business here and grow."

He says prices are difficult to gauge but customers should expect to pay 20 - 30% less.

Some Costco 'superfans' camping outside the retailer's West Auckland store ahead of its opening.

"Obviously not every product is like that but fresh food, the quality's fantastic and the savings are there as well.

"In the general merchandise like the apparel you see here, we've got all brand names here and they're all showing great savings to what've I've seen in the market place."

He said despite inflation, Costco is aiming to keep the price of everything low.

"Often we work with vendors to try and get pack sizes a bit bigger if we can just ship more merchandise to reduce the affect of inflation."

"I'm not sure what the New Zealand inflation rate is but definitely it's affecting the sale price here, Australia, and North America as well."

Inflation sits at 7.3%.

Noone also said Christchurch and Wellington may be options for a second Costco store but South Auckland also looks "very attractive."

Asked about the environmental impact of Costco in New Zealand, Noone said he is very conscious the company has a responsibility to produce sustainable packaging.

"We are extremely aware that we have a role as a good corporate citizen to reduce packaging as much as we can."

He said a lot of cardboard is being introduced but single use plastics are often hard to avoid especially in the food and deli area.

"Just look at how we package things, they're larger, you buy more quantity normally so it requires less packaging."

People camped out overnight outside the store ahead of its opening this morning.

One superfan Poppy Keane and her friends had been camping out since 2.30pm yesterday.

When 1News spoke to the group last night, they were in high spirits. They were set up in camping chairs and had yoga mats and mattresses in the car.

"Just superfans of Costco and we just can't wait for it to open," Keane explained.

Keane said they were trying to be the first in the door. She added they were excited about the store's range of snacks, particularly seasoning.

She said a member of the Costco fan page would be bringing muffins this morning and some of the workers were set to bring coffee.

Another fan Elesha Bell grew up in Orange County, California and has seen a few Costcols in her time. She said she was looking forward to the variety.

Other fans were waiting in their cars.

The store was initially slated to open in mid-August but that was pushed back due to "inevitable hurdles".

Costco runs on a membership system, with costs starting at $55 for a business membership.