Costco to accept food stamps

Call it a sign of the times -- or at least a sign of the lingering effects of the recession and ongoing unemployment. According to several media sources, Costco (COST), the big box discount retailer, will begin taking food stamps at some locations.

Nearly 36 million Americans use food stamps, but the Costco decision is odd. While Wal-Mart (WMT), which does accept food stamps, is considered a shopping center for relatively low-income consumers, Costco has maintained an image of catering to the fairly affluent. The number of high-end shoppers must have fallen enough that Costco wants to bring in a new category of customers.