Walmart Sam's Club to hike membership fees for first time in years

A Walmart sign is pictured at one of their stores in Mexico City, Mexico March 28, 2019. Picture taken March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Aug 31 (Reuters) - Walmart Inc-owned (WMT.N) Sam's Club will raise its membership fees for the first time in at least nine years, the warehouse club chain said on Wednesday, as it seeks to shore up its margins.

U.S. retailers have been looking for ways to bump up their profits following a slump in demand for high-margin discretionary products as inflation-hit consumers rein in spending.

Starting Oct. 17, annual membership fees will increase to $50 from $45 for entry-level "Club" members and to $110 from $100 for "Plus" customers who receive more perks including free shipping.

This is the first time Sam's Club is raising the fee for "Plus" customers since introducing the offering in 1999, while "Club" fees are being hiked for the first time in nine years.

Sam's Club also said it would give $5 to "Club" members and $10 to "Plus" customers, as a one-time offer, in digital cash shortly after membership renewals this year.

Sam's Club's bigger rival Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O) last raised its fee in 2017 and analysts have said the company, which typically increases its fee every 5-1/2 years, could delay it this time as consumers cut spending.

Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi

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