Warehouse Clubs vs. Retail Stores: Will Buying in Bulk Save You Money?

When looking for ways to save money and tighten your spending without sacrificing too much, you might be considering doing your shopping at a warehouse club like Costco or Sam’s Club.  A move like this can definitely save you money, but it is entirely dependent on your personal needs, so be prepared to do some analyzing before jumping in.

Warehouse clubs can have a number of advantages over the average retail location.  The warehouses make their money off of your membership fee (which can range from $40-50 depending on the store) and function with fewer employees, allowing them to offer you lower prices.  Retail stores generally go the other direction and mark prices up to cover overhead, employee wages, etc.  However, while warehouses will occasionally stock smaller items, you have no choice but to buy the industrial size jar of mayo.  The overall savings might be good, but are you really going to use that much mayo before it expires?

The warehouses also offer an extremely wide range of services all in one spot.  You can apply for home and auto loans, buy vacation packages and concert tickets, get roadside assistance, pick up your prescription medications, and even pump gas at a cheaper price.  You might even find postage stamps and gift certificates selling for less than face value.  It gets better still-you can get a good deal on flat-screen TVs and washing machines.  Try finding all of that at your local grocery store!

Customer service generally ranks low for warehouses, though, mostly due to the smaller number of employees, which means there’s no one around to help you.  They also may not have the exact same inventory week to week, as they buy in bulk from whichever manufacturer is currently offering the lowest prices.  So if you’re hooked on Doritos nachos and just have to have them every time you go shopping, you might be disappointed when all they have next week is Baked Lays.  Some people also mention getting sucked into all the good deals they see and spending much more than they intended to, and when you’re buying in bulk, that could mean an extra $50 or $100 on your bill.

Whether or not a warehouse membership will save you money, then, is entirely dependent on your own personal needs.  If you really will use that entire jar of mayo in time, you’re okay with any brand that is offered on any given day, and perhaps might take advantage of the large appliances for sale, then the warehouse is for you.  If you only buy exactly what you need when you need it and you’re not in the market for a new surround sound system, it might be more realistic to compare your local retail stores and just shop the cheapest one.  Some days they might actually have better deals than the warehouses.

One Response to Warehouse Clubs vs. Retail Stores: Will Buying in Bulk Save You Money?

  1. kediemetse kemoloile says:

    no exact answer for exact question

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