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Thursday, June 05, 2014 (read 3422 times)
Costco in Sevilleby Tyson
The American Way of Shopping in Spain
Costco’s first continental European store opened for business in Seville, Spain last month, where 36 roll-packs of toilet paper and foot-long hot dogs are just a couple of the beefy items on offer that are wowing rookie Costco customers.
Vast aisles of bulk-goods and bargain-sized stuff piled upon pallets and industrial shelving has welcomed thousands of Spaniards to a new and decidedly American way of shopping, a place where bigger is better and variety means you can pick up anything from a € 150,000 diamond to a 5 kilo bucket of Nutella.
Seville’s brand new 145,000 square-foot American mega-store measures in at roughly the same size as a medieval castle, or even a charming Spanish village (Emperador, Valencia is about 100,000 square feet). Whether or not the big box goods for purchase will transform already-changing modern shopping concepts in Spain remains to be seen.
Big merchandise, big expectations
Before the spacious store even opened its doors for business, 16,000 anxious consumers had already signed up and paid to become official card-carrying members. Membership costs € 30 (€ 25 if you’re a company or a professional) plus tax. After the first few weeks that the company had opened the hiring process to staff the new Seville store, team Costco hopefuls had swamped hiring managers with some 148,000 resumés for the 250 positions available.
The American retail giant seems to be attempting to conquer Spain by entering first through the south eastern port town of Seville, where 16th century Spanish conquistadors of the so-called golden century returned to their home country with the valuable objects and materials they had sacked from the Americas.
Costco has announced plans to open a new store in Madrid “relatively soon”. Jim Murphy, vice president of international operations has reportedly stated that these are the first two stores planned for Spain, also describing Spain as a “stupendous market”. All this leaves observers to assume that the company has more Spain warehouse club stores in the pipeline.
Will it work?
Texas-sized stuff sells well in places like, Texas, where big bargain wranglers can round up big purchases and promptly return to homes in a state characterized by extensive ranchlands. But what about in Seville? An aerial view of this city with Roman origins and winding cobbled streets reveals a landscape that appears to provide little extra space for jumbo shopping hauls. But look at Taiwan –with a population density of 1,849 people per square mile (one of the highest in the world) the island already has 10 Costco stores. Japan’s got 19.
The discussion about how large-scale shopping malls affect communities and small family run specialty shops is nothing new in Spain, and enormous Costco superstores will clearly have a heavy impact on old-school shopping landscapes. In a time when Spain is eager to speed up a slow economy however, many local residents are delighted by the city’s new addition including Seville mayor Juan Ignacio Álvarez, who insisted that the investment will be “a guaranteed success”.
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