Costco is one of those stores that really seem to have everything. You walk into the sprawling warehouse, and the world is your oyster: Want a flat screen television? Right this way! How about a whole beef tenderloin? Just around that corner, sir! Need a new pair of glasses? No? Well, they’re there if you change your mind. How about a cheap, massive slice of pizza? But while it may seem like there’s no better store to get great value for your money, there are some items that you’d be better off purchasing elsewhere.
You’d also be better off shopping for CDs and DVDs on Amazon. The prices you’ll find at Costco may be slightly cheaper than at other stores, but you’ll still get a better deal if you shop online, and Amazon Prime has made it a lot easier as well.
Buying food in bulk is always a gamble because there’s the definite possibility of it going bad before you can use it. Fruits and vegetables, for example, have a very short shelf life and not all varieties can be frozen, so you may want to pause before buying that 24-pack of peaches. Fruit and vegetable prices also tend to drop depending on what’s in season at supermarkets, while they often remain the same at Costco. Also keep in mind that condiments only stay good for about six months.
Diapers are actually slightly cheaper at Target and Walmart than they are at Costco, and they can also be purchased at a 20-percent discount through Amazon Mom, which is an offshoot of Amazon Prime and also lets you buy in bulk (and not have to worry about fitting those bulky packages into the trunk).
You might spy clothes from a name brand at Costco, and at first glance they’ll probably look about the same as they do at a department store, albeit with a lower price tag. In reality, big name aside, the cheaper product might well be of a lower quality than what you pay full price for; many name-brand designers produce cheaper versions of their designs specifically for outlet stores and warehouse clubs.
Kirkland Brand (Costco’s private label) tissues and toilet paper may be less expensive than the competition, but they also don’t stack up from a quality standpoint. Consumer Reports found that the facial tissue has “so-so strength” and that the toilet paper “offers only so-so strength and tearing ease.”
Flip Flops are a dollar store staple, and are intended to be of low quality. So while $10 might not sound like much to pay for a pair, you’ll find them for a much lower price than that at the dollar store.
Don’t assume that just because an electronics item is for sale at Costco, it’s cheaper than it would be at a store like Best Buy. Always shop around before making a commitment; you’ll most likely find that a store that specializes in electronics still has the best prices.
You’ll find both milk and soda available for lower prices at your local grocery store (especially if you wait for them to go on sale), and anyway buying milk in bulk is a surefire recipe for waste. Don’t forget that soda, while it may not “go bad,” will get flat after a while, too.
Canned goods are also usually a better deal at the grocery store, especially if you look for your supermarket’s on-sale private label brand.