Dismay At Costco Hiroshima parking charges

Costco linesMany local residents have been as excited about Costco opening in Hiroshima as local supermarkets and mail order companies like Flying Pig have no doubt been worried. However, with the store finally due to open on March 23, excitement and goodwill towards the company have been tempered by the announcement of some extraordinary  parking charges.

Parking at the warehouse retail outlets, customers of which must pay a membership fee, is generally free. In Hiroshima, however, parking will be charged at a wallet trashing ¥3000 an hour. Customers who spend ¥5000 will receive one hour of free parking and those who spend over ¥10,000 will get two hours. The Chugoku Shinbun describes the high parking fees are a desperate measure to try and control the inevitable congestion that the new store will cause. It will also, of course, help to stop baseball fans going to the neighboring Mazda Stadium from using some of the store’s 1050 parking spaces on game days.

The manager of the Hiroshima store is quoted as saying, “The parking prices may seem extreme, but we had to do create some kind of barrier to entry.” The manager also expresses concern, however, that the parking fees will reduce customer numbers to a store which relies on people coming in cars so they can haul home Costco’s wholesale goods.

Local Japanese blogs have lit up on the issue since the Chugoku Shinbun report earlier this week. Comments ranging from the xenophobic, “That’s just like the Americans!” to the glib, “Who ever heard of a VIP wholsesale market?” . Other Costco fans who have been waiting expectantly for the opening for many months, are dismayed and disappointed. Some have posted tips on strategies on how to get in, around, and out in a limited time  so as not to get hit by a ¥3000 surcharge (spend ¥5000 but leave the car park 61 minutes after you entered and you’ll be charged 1 hour’s parking). Many more have thrown their hands up in dismay, saying that the charges will make it impossible for them to fully enjoy the “Costco experience”.

At the opening of other stores around Japan, parking lots have been full well before doors opened and customers have faced long lines to get into the parking, get into the store, get to the registers to pay, and ,finally, to get back home. Whether the extraordinary parking charges will ameliorate this is yet to be seen. Perhaps thousands of Hiroshima residents will descend on the store on an endless convoy of mama chari bicycles to go have a look around and buy nothing other than one of Costco’s highly nutritious hotdogs and bag of chips the size of a small child to take home in their basket.

All of this, of course, begs the question, why the heck did they choose to put the store so near the city center, right next to a huge sports stadium, in the first place? At any rate, if, come March 23, customers are hit with huge parking bills after a spending most of their day waiting in line to buy canned goods, it might well be worth heading down there, Fresta-bought bento slung over handle bars, and sitting back to enjoy the fireoworks.

 

Paul Walsh

Paul arrived in Hiroshima "for a few months" back in 1996. He is the co-founder of GetHiroshima.com and loves running in the mountains.

9 thoughts on “Dismay At Costco Hiroshima parking charges

  • February 21, 2013 at 12:27 pm
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    As the charges apparently will apply not only on game days and no matter how far out of town you come, and no other Costco in Japan charges for parking, it seems like there is something else going on with the parking charges.

    I have heard a few Costco staff say this parking policy (the ¥3,000 yen part) is still under review, so if you disagree with this policy, please write in to their online customer service and voice your point of view on the subject.

    I think the opinions of costco members carries a lot of value in this discussion, especially since this is an American company where “the customer comes first” is taken seriously: https://www.costco.co.jp/p/comments?lang=en

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  • February 21, 2013 at 1:39 pm
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    Well written GH! It seems a clear case of not having thought your great idea through to the end consequences. Are Costco so wealthy they need to alienate customers before they even join. Imagine the people who pop in to see if they want to join, decide to think about it, and then get charged ¥3000 for having had a look. Not likely to return. Don’t fancy the job of the poor bugger on the gate, that’s for sure. I wanted to pop in once a week for a small shop, but not likely to happen until this changed. Once again : oshii Hiroshima! Good suggestion to write to them Joy. I will be!

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  • February 21, 2013 at 2:52 pm
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    Im planning on taking the train there, and making off with a backpack full of ribs. thats the plan.

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  • February 22, 2013 at 1:00 am
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    rather than fight the traffic and deal with the parking, i will be continuing to go to fukuoka. at least until they get the parking sorted. i only go to costco once every three months or so. i like the drive and the chance to spend some time in fukuoka and get out of hiroshima.

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  • February 22, 2013 at 9:39 am
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    I drive by that stadium area sometimes and the road that goes in front of the stadium goes toward Mazda industry in one direction and the main Hiroshima station in the other and it is usually congested. It doesn’t move very quickly on weekdays & barely inches along on weekends, once costco opens this will be a nightmare. A bit like the Fuchu area around Soleiu (Diamond City) dept store has become. On the bright side, if you head across from the new development across the river Danbara/Shinonome where they have built new roads, it is easier to move out and on to route 2, into town or along to other main roads. There is a new Renaissance sports center being built next door and their parking rates seem more standard (300 yen/hour) if anyone is interested in combining working out with costco shopping. I can’t imagine shopping at costco without a car since the idea of savings at a warehouse store come from buying in bulk, but going by taxi might prove to be a better option at least on the weekends or in the first month.

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  • February 22, 2013 at 10:02 pm
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    Funny – one would expect them to understand that their ‘barrier’ falls smack into a violation of hindering commerce (the demand side of it).
    WOn’t take long before they’re slapped with a court order. The Hiroshima Ombudsman is the finest Japan has ever had to offer.

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  • March 8, 2013 at 1:03 am
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    I sent an email to Costco three weeks ago and received a reply from the Marketing Manager here at the Hiroshima store last week. I met him on Tuesday to try to clarify the meaning of their response. After speaking with him, it became abundantly clear that, while Costco made the ultimate decision on the parking fee scheme, they did so under pressure from the Hiroshima City Hall and the Prefectural/City police department, which were strongly voicing their concerns regarding traffic congestion and “kinjou maewaku” (bothering the neighbors). If the city and police had such concerns, why did they NOT oppose the proposed location of Costco early on in the move to bring the store to Hiroshima? Costco was pressured into building the store there to fill Mitsui Real Estate Co.’s lost tenant, and all the assurances and blessings must have been given to them by the municipal government to start.

    Regardless, nothing can be changed at this point. As for future changes to the parking fee policy, Costco hopes to be able to change it at the earliest opportunity. However, any change to their pricing has to be approved by City Hall AND the regional police. Knowing the opposition from other retailers such as YouMe Town, Jusco, Fuji Grand, and the likes, you can bet there will be a lot of lobbying to prevent a reduction in those outrageous fees for a while.

    As JJWalsh pointed out above, the best way to get Costco to push the issue hard with City Hall to revise their parking fees is through the voices of the local residents, both foreign and Japanese. They are reading your emails and will respond, but let’s try to keep it civil.

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  • March 8, 2013 at 1:12 am
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    Udo nomi, did you know that a new Costco is also opening on March 22 in Kitakyushu city? The news about that grand opening has gotten lost in all the shock over the parking prices planned for the Hiroshima store.

    It’s an hour closer to Hiroshima, and the parking is FREE!

    I used to go to Hisayama (Fukuoka) twice a year, too. I may end up going to the Kitakyushu store instead of our Hiroshima store for the time being, at least until the parking costs change.

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  • March 23, 2013 at 9:38 am
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    We have been heard!

    Costco is open today, and guess what! This is from their homepage: Hiroshima warehouse is open today!!!
    Parking is Free of charge today!!!
    (Additional Parking spaces are available)

    After today, parking for members is 300 yen per 20 minutes, with 3 hours free with a receipt from that day’s parking.

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