The Worst Day Of The Week To Shop At Costco Is Unfortunately Also The Most Convenient

Costco has it all, from giant boxes of cereal to cult-favorite $4.99 rotisserie chickens to the food court (home of the inflation-busting $1.50 hot dog combo). Where else can you pick up a big-screen TV, a diamond ring, and a 10-pack of toothbrushes? 

For the price of a Costco membership, which starts at $60, you can save money by stocking up on bulk grocery products. The beloved chain is able to sell stock super-cheap because it runs on very thin profit margins, doesn't pay for any advertising or traditional marketing, and only stocks about 4,000 items at a time (as opposed to the more than 30,000 items at a regular supermarket), which gives it major buying power as brands compete for shelf space.

Rather than make money on big markups, Costco's business model is to sell in volume. Now more than ever, thanks to 40-year-high inflation, everyone's looking for ways to save money on their grocery bill. And bulk buying has become more popular than ever. So in addition to the low prices and fan favorite products, Costco also usually has big crowds. Throwing a few elbows to get your hands on a bottle of Kirkland Signature olive oil isn't the worst thing if you're on the prowl for bargains. But if you want to skip the long lines (and save your sanity), try to avoid weekend Costco trips.

Skip going to Costco on Sundays

You might think Sunday is the best day to go to Costco. You have the most time to browse the aisles — but that's what everyone else thinks, too, especially married people who work Monday through Friday, aka Costco's primary audience. In addition to the psychological stress of shopping with the masses, Sunday crowds also mean that you either have to get there early or suffer the consequences of picked-over produce and sold-out items. 

Plus, on Sundays, Costco often runs out of free samples, one of the major perks of a Costco run. (How else are you supposed to keep up your strength for carrying a case of water home?) When you're in the retail trenches, Costco's samples bring life, and you don't want to miss out on them.

Instead of shopping on Sundays (or on the weekend in general, because Saturdays are pretty busy, too), Reader's Digest recommends shopping Tuesday through Thursday from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. These times not only avoid the dreaded weekend crowds, but you'll also miss the morning rush and the lunch-hour shoppers. Midweek is best because you'll avoid anyone stocking up for the week (Monday) or the weekend (Friday). If you can't sneak out in the afternoon, skip the post-work rush from 5:00-6:00 p.m.; a lot of people shop right after work. Instead, check how late your local Costco is open on weeknights (often as late as 8:30 p.m.). The last hour before closing tends to be pretty quiet.

Avoid anxiety by planning ahead and shopping on weekdays

Grocery shopping in general can feel overwhelming, between the parking, product choices, and comparing prices. It's good to come armed to Costco with a list or at least a plan; it's easy to get dazzled by a stack of Calvin Klein jeans or an end-cap display of industrial-sized spices and blow the budget. Add a big crowd of fellow shoppers to the mix in the store, however, and even the best-laid plans can go out the window. 

Crowds can turn up the anxiety and you can find yourself grabbing things you don't need, forgetting things you do need, and not taking the time to compare prices. (Not everything at Costco is a deal, so you could end up paying more than you would elsewhere.) Plus, it's just time-consuming to shop in a crowded store, especially when it's time to check out.

If you want the best Costco experience, consider avoiding weekend shopping trips, especially those on Sundays.