Costco discontinues sheet cakes; retains 10 inch round cakes

This is the place for general and miscellaneous posts on topics which might extend past the boundaries of any specific region. No non-grocery posts.
storewanderer
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Posts: 5621
Joined: February 23rd, 2009, 3:54 pm
Been thanked: 181 times
Contact:
Status: Offline

Costco discontinues sheet cakes; retains 10 inch round cakes

Post by storewanderer » June 28th, 2020, 7:45 pm

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/r ... ronavirus/

Does anyone here know how the round cakes are made? Do they make them in store by cutting out rounds from the big sheet cakes or the do the round cakes come into the store pre-made/pre-frosted (like Kroger and Safeway round cakes)?

I am a little surprised to see these cakes discontinued. As a kid these cakes were a staple at every party and numerous school functions.

Maybe cupcakes are the current trend? Easier to serve and portion control is very straightforward.

I would assume demand is down for the big cakes due to the Coronavirus thing and distancing concerns. I also wonder if Costco is trying to reduce warehouse traffic. As I recall these cakes you had to go into the warehouse to order then you had to make a separate trip to pick the thing up, I don't recall them offering online or phone ordering.

Hopefully not a political move attempting to hinder large gatherings at this time and not offer something that big gatherings want. Lots of other bakeries will still sell those gatherings their half sheet cakes (albeit at a higher price), or they could simply buy multiple 10 inch round cakes from Costco.

Also think they may be able to sell more round cakes to the weekly/bi-weekly shoppers for household use vs. the big sheet cakes that were geared toward gatherings and too big for normal household use. Sams Club has always had a variety of round cakes and the big sheet cakes. These cakes usually look quite good, but taste pretty bad.

In researching further it appears many Costco Stores were "hung" with numerous orders in late March for sheet cakes that did not get picked up due to gatherings being canceled. Costco either needs to require people prepay for their cakes or do something else. Given they did not want to provide service, not sure how that would work. Perhaps they fill out the order in bakery, then take the order slip up to the cashier and pay for the cake then the front end collects all the orders and gives them to bakery at the end of the day similar to the old "drop box" system that was used. Then each cake has a claim check similar to a valet ticket so it can be tracked which cake was paid for, etc.

Alpha8472
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Posts: 1648
Joined: February 24th, 2009, 8:55 pm
Has thanked: 6 times
Been thanked: 52 times
Status: Offline

Re: Costco discontinues sheet cakes; retains 10 inch round cakes

Post by Alpha8472 » June 29th, 2020, 2:48 am

A Costco worker said the same recipe is used for the round cakes as the half sheets.

I would assume the discontinuing of the half sheet cakes is due to people ordering and not picking up the orders. They also want to eliminate the time wasted by having to take special orders for half sheet cakes.

They can just put out self serve round cakes and make more money that way. Impulse buying is much more profitable. If people need more cake to feed people, they will just have to buy another cake.

Safeway is awful as the cakes are stored behind glass. If people want to impulse buy a cake you have to hunt for an employee. At Costco, you can just help yourself to a round cake.

BillyGr
Veteran Member
Veteran Member
Posts: 615
Joined: October 5th, 2010, 7:33 pm
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 13 times
Status: Offline

Re: Costco discontinues sheet cakes; retains 10 inch round cakes

Post by BillyGr » June 29th, 2020, 9:50 am

storewanderer wrote:
June 28th, 2020, 7:45 pm
In researching further it appears many Costco Stores were "hung" with numerous orders in late March for sheet cakes that did not get picked up due to gatherings being canceled. Costco either needs to require people prepay for their cakes or do something else. Given they did not want to provide service, not sure how that would work. Perhaps they fill out the order in bakery, then take the order slip up to the cashier and pay for the cake then the front end collects all the orders and gives them to bakery at the end of the day similar to the old "drop box" system that was used. Then each cake has a claim check similar to a valet ticket so it can be tracked which cake was paid for, etc.
While understandable why people wouldn't need them, you'd think they would have at least contacted the stores to let them know, and then they could have cut them into smaller options and sold them off as a special deal to regular customers (particularly when the stores were so busy at that time, people would have likely bought anything that was available).

Also seems that, while an issue at that time, it wouldn't necessarily be one on a regular basis, so it seems kind of odd to make a change on what was (hopefully) a one time problem.

mjhale
Bronze Member
Bronze Member
Posts: 96
Joined: October 2nd, 2016, 4:02 pm
Been thanked: 10 times
Status: Offline

Re: Costco discontinues sheet cakes; retains 10 inch round cakes

Post by mjhale » June 29th, 2020, 4:00 pm

BillyGr wrote:
June 29th, 2020, 9:50 am
Also seems that, while an issue at that time, it wouldn't necessarily be one on a regular basis, so it seems kind of odd to make a change on what was (hopefully) a one time problem.
I was a Costco member from 2014-2016. I had joined to use their car buying service and then stayed until I realized I just didn't have space to store the huge quantities of stuff I had to buy. The deals are really good but for one person it started not to make sense.

Anyhow, even back then I would routinely see multiple custom ordered cakes that were not picked up. Weekends were worse with sometimes three or four cakes left sitting in the pickup refrigerator at the end of the day. All you had to do was to fill out the cake order sheet and slip it in the mailbox thing on the cake display. The cakes were then made and placed in a refrigerated unit prior to open of business each day. You'd pay when you pick up the cake. Since Costco didn't sell cake slices or discount out leftover stuff they must have been tossing any cakes that weren't picked up. I'd imagine between cancelled parties and then the gathering limits during and even now after the lock down the huge cakes weren't selling. I'd think you could get several smaller round cakes out of one of the huge cakes they were selling. That is probably an easier sell now given the limits on gatherings.

storewanderer
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Posts: 5621
Joined: February 23rd, 2009, 3:54 pm
Been thanked: 181 times
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Costco discontinues sheet cakes; retains 10 inch round cakes

Post by storewanderer » June 29th, 2020, 9:00 pm

I would guess between labor and materials each of these half sheet cakes cost Costco in the neighborhood of $15-$17. So a few cakes not picked up in a given day would be quite a loss, potentially more of a loss than the profit made on cakes sold/picked up that day.

A prepayment policy would be best as a number of supermarkets have gone to. However for those random Safeways or WinCos I've seen signs about prepayment required at, it seems like the signs are store made and do not stay up long, so it does not appear to be a policy approved by the corporate offices, and after a complaint or two the signs go down (not sure if the policy goes away too).

klkla
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Posts: 1433
Joined: February 24th, 2009, 3:26 pm
Has thanked: 23 times
Been thanked: 123 times
Status: Offline

Re: Costco discontinues sheet cakes; retains 10 inch round cakes

Post by klkla » June 30th, 2020, 10:26 am

Back when I worked for Pavilions all the sheet cakes were frozen (Sara Lee brand) and defrosted the day before they were decorated and picked up.

Do we know that Costco bakes all cakes from scratch (or mix) in store?

I would think that Storewanderer is probably correct that the trend is moving towards cup cakes because people don't want other people touching their cake slices in the Covid19 era. Cupcakes are more sanitary in this respect.

storewanderer
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Posts: 5621
Joined: February 23rd, 2009, 3:54 pm
Been thanked: 181 times
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Costco discontinues sheet cakes; retains 10 inch round cakes

Post by storewanderer » June 30th, 2020, 7:04 pm

It sounds like Costco still mixes the cakes from scratch but I guess uses round pans for these round cakes vs. cutting the rounds out of already made (rectangular or square) sheets. This explains why the moisture level on their cakes was always so good.

Have noticed lately Safeway NorCal is trying to sell plastic cake or pie serving tools out of the bakery case wrapped in plastic bags for 1.29 each or some random price. I think there was a time when you could ask for one of those and it was provided at no charge.

mbz321
Gold Member
Gold Member
Posts: 278
Joined: March 11th, 2010, 7:52 pm
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 10 times
Status: Offline

Re: Costco discontinues sheet cakes; retains 10 inch round cakes

Post by mbz321 » June 30th, 2020, 8:16 pm

I work at Costco, so perhaps I can shed some light. Costco has over the last year or so has been aggressively trying to move away from labor-intensive items, and it seems the Bakery has been the hardest hit. For example, you might notice the pies no longer have the lattice on them. The pies themselves came in pre-made and frozen already, but the lattice was put on in-house. They just did away with it all together. A lot of items were cut while others that were made from scratch in store are now coming in frozen. Cakes required a lot of labor and there was very little margin on them.

Some other examples, some fish items in the Meat department come in prepacked now in long clear plastic packaging (which isn't the best from a loss prevention standpoint, it is very easy for someone to stack a few together and not be noticeable as they are quite thin). And the Food Courts have basically scrapped everything labor intensive or things that would spoil easily (salads, veggies for the pizza toppings) off the menu (although the yogurt was replaced with Ice Cream at a slightly higher price). Also stores have been rapidly rolling out self checkouts, and adding more in locations that already have them (although they are probably the least useful self checkouts anywhere and are really only beneficial if you are buying a few easily maneuverable items that don't require cashier intervention)

While the Covid reasoning is a good excuse, at the end of the day, it is a cost-saving measure. Frankly, they should have just increased the prices on the cakes. From my experience, the average Costco shopper hardly even notices the prices of items anyway (must be nice to have a lot of disposable income) Even Walmart was charging significantly more for their sheet cakes.

storewanderer
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Posts: 5621
Joined: February 23rd, 2009, 3:54 pm
Been thanked: 181 times
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Costco discontinues sheet cakes; retains 10 inch round cakes

Post by storewanderer » June 30th, 2020, 11:57 pm

There seem to be certain items where Costco does not want to do a price increase on. I think the Costco customer has become less and less price sensitive over time, and Costco has done a good job with its products to the point where they are not the lowest price in many cases and the bargain basement customers who were looking for dirt cheap deals have long abandoned Costco and just run around to whatever store (stores) has (have) hot ad items they want in a given week.

I like the self checkout at Sam's Club but I am exactly what you describe- I go in and buy a maximum of 3 items I have in my hands. In the case of Costco my observation has been Costco runs such an efficient front end with fast moving cashiers and helpers that those people seem to be much more efficient than a self checkout could be... chances are the self checkout actually takes the Costco customer more time than going to a human cashier would take. But even if it takes the customer more time it saves labor if the customer does not require help from an employee. I also wonder if receipt audit spends more time on self checkout users than those who go to a regular cashier...

Maybe when Costco brings the cakes back they will increase the price. The new round cakes are in effect quite a price increase (a lot less cake there) on a per ounce basis.

I think the food courts needed to do something to reduce demand- they simply have too many customers, too little space. I remember long ago when there was no food court but a there was a hot dog cart up front that dispensed the hot dog and a can of soda cash only- not even a cash register. Cutting out some items may reduce traffic. If nothing else it gives more space for the few items left so they can serve faster. I have waited for a slice of pizza quite a few times in the past year or two, which never happened in the past. They are just slammed with customers, small work space with a lot of employees doing a lot of different things. There should be no waiting for anything at Costco- they are the model of efficiency to get your money in a flash and get you the product at rapid speed. The hot dog onions and relish went away too. Those dispensers always looked nasty to me (I never used them) but a lot of people seemed to use them. I think cutting food court items is a positive move. It is interesting the supreme pizza they could not have moved to some sort of pre cut pre portioned packets of sliced vegetables the locations could have opened up and thrown atop the pizza. But now there will be more space in the case for the cheese and pepperoni so hopefully they will not run out as often.

Super S
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Posts: 1840
Joined: April 1st, 2009, 9:27 pm
Has thanked: 14 times
Been thanked: 43 times
Status: Offline

Re: Costco discontinues sheet cakes; retains 10 inch round cakes

Post by Super S » July 1st, 2020, 6:51 am

storewanderer wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 11:57 pm
There seem to be certain items where Costco does not want to do a price increase on. I think the Costco customer has become less and less price sensitive over time, and Costco has done a good job with its products to the point where they are not the lowest price in many cases and the bargain basement customers who were looking for dirt cheap deals have long abandoned Costco and just run around to whatever store (stores) has (have) hot ad items they want in a given week.

I like the self checkout at Sam's Club but I am exactly what you describe- I go in and buy a maximum of 3 items I have in my hands. In the case of Costco my observation has been Costco runs such an efficient front end with fast moving cashiers and helpers that those people seem to be much more efficient than a self checkout could be... chances are the self checkout actually takes the Costco customer more time than going to a human cashier would take. But even if it takes the customer more time it saves labor if the customer does not require help from an employee. I also wonder if receipt audit spends more time on self checkout users than those who go to a regular cashier...

Maybe when Costco brings the cakes back they will increase the price. The new round cakes are in effect quite a price increase (a lot less cake there) on a per ounce basis.

I think the food courts needed to do something to reduce demand- they simply have too many customers, too little space. I remember long ago when there was no food court but a there was a hot dog cart up front that dispensed the hot dog and a can of soda cash only- not even a cash register. Cutting out some items may reduce traffic. If nothing else it gives more space for the few items left so they can serve faster. I have waited for a slice of pizza quite a few times in the past year or two, which never happened in the past. They are just slammed with customers, small work space with a lot of employees doing a lot of different things. There should be no waiting for anything at Costco- they are the model of efficiency to get your money in a flash and get you the product at rapid speed. The hot dog onions and relish went away too. Those dispensers always looked nasty to me (I never used them) but a lot of people seemed to use them. I think cutting food court items is a positive move. It is interesting the supreme pizza they could not have moved to some sort of pre cut pre portioned packets of sliced vegetables the locations could have opened up and thrown atop the pizza. But now there will be more space in the case for the cheese and pepperoni so hopefully they will not run out as often.
I do still shop at Costco and pay VERY close attention to prices. There are some items I no longer buy at Costco because I can buy it locally for about the same price, and in many cases, with more variety to choose from. With the closest locations about an hour drive from me it has to be worth the trip, and if there comes a time when I don't feel that it's worth the drive, I won't renew my membership at that point.

I will admit that I occasionally buy a hot dog and pop and eat on the way home. But I have to agree that, as they have expanded food court menus, that the wait is sometimes long and if I see a line I move on. I sometimes question the cleanliness of those dispensers for onions/relish (which I also do not use) and even the pop dispensers, particularly the straws, which are now some paper based things that disintegrate before I finish my pop. I would have no problem if they moved back to cans of pop (but can see issues with that, particularly in Oregon)

Post Reply