Memberships at warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club are very popular. The attraction is that shoppers can save money buying at these warehouse clubs because they can acquire items at prices only slightly higher than wholesale. The question then becomes do shoppers really save money with a warehouse membership?
Warehouse clubs sell items in bulk, so the amount needed and expiration date of perishable items must be considered when deciding if a membership can truly save the shopper money. Additionally, memberships can cost anywhere from $40 to $100 yearly, so shoppers need to calculate if their yearly savings from shopping at these clubs offset their membership cost.
Some shoppers can save money from buying in bulk. If the items bought are non-perishable or have a distant expiration date, they might be a good deal and provide substantial savings for the shopper. There are staples that shoppers can buy in bulk at warehouse stores that normally last a long time and that the family is guaranteed to consume. These staples include toothpaste, canned and jarred goods, paper goods, frozen meats and other frozen foods and cereal. Particularly for things like frozen meats and other frozen foods, the shopper can save money if there is a deep freezer at home where they can store these items long term. With bulk meat, the shopper should divide the meat into smaller packages before putting it into the freezer at home to avoid further waste when using the meat.
Another way shoppers can save money with warehouse membership is if they are very knowledgeable about the types and amounts of foods the family consumes in a certain period of time as well as the costs of these foods in local shops and supermarkets. If the shopper can successfully comparison shop, then she can save money by knowing which store provides the better deal: the warehouse store or the local shop. This involves knowing the types of sales available locally as well as the coupon policies of shops so that the customer can calculate the better deal.
Shoppers using warehouse stores can also save money from buying in bulk if they split the items and therefore the bill with a friend or another family member. Not every family needs or has space to store 36 rolls of paper towels, for example, but if they find a friend or family member who also needs to buy the same items, they can both save money for their family by paying the lower price for the bulk quantity and taking home a more manageable amount of goods. This works well for perishable items but it works even better for perishable ones that need to be used by a certain date.
Finally, shoppers can also take advantage of seasonal or short-term deals on special items such as clothing, electronics, patio furniture or Christmas decorations. Again, to decide if the prices for these items are a good deal, the shopper should be familiar with the prices of similar items at other shops. With electronics in particular, though their normal warehouse store prices might be slightly lower than in other stores, the shopper might want to wait for a sale at the specialized electronics store or other stores that will provide significant discounts instead of buying it at the warehouse store.
A shopper can save money with warehouse membership if she knows her family’s habits and can shop smartly so that she does not find herself throwing out expired, unused food or buying things the family does not use just because it seems a good deal. That is one surefire way to make a warehouse membership pointless.