Friday, December 30, 2011

Costco Membership - Is it worth the $60. Check out my findings

For months I have been itching to get inside a Costco store to see how the savings stack up. But much as I love a good bargain, I am very wary about paying $60 for an annual membership for the privilege of shopping. $60 is a lot of money just to find out whether or not the place is good value for money, and that's the only reason I would want to shop there.

I've tried finding friends or family who would want to subsidise (or be subsidised) a membership in exchange for being the "guest" that a member can take along, but for the most part everyone I know wants to be my guest, at my cost. And since I don't throw $60 away lightly, I benched this idea for a while. (FYI, each membership comes with 2 cards for people at the same address, and each cardholder can take 2 adult guests, kids don't count).

But yay, because she could use the membership for her scouts crew, my sister had bought a membership and very nicely agreed to take me along for a visit.

And since I am sure I am not the only person who has been wondering if the place stacks up to its promises of great value through bulk buys I took my camera along for the trip. The majority of my price comparisons have been done using Lasoo or from the catalogues I would normally shop from to be as fair as possible in a reasonable shopping comparison. It’s not always like for like for quantity, so I am using unit pricing to find the value.

Firstly, the place is massive. Think Bunnings but filled with everything under the sun, electrical, clothes, meat, alcohol, baby goods, even its own hearing aid section and optometrist. I'll detail some of the less easily compared items, but here is a quick overview of some common household purchases.

Quick run through on the fresh food, 12 croissants for $8.99 (normally $1.20 each at my bakery), $21.99 for a luscious round mudcake that is easily 2 hands long, $26.99 for a large slab cake with Happy birthday written on it, $10.99 for a kilo of cooked OR uncooked buffalo wings, (not as yummy as they looked though), $14.99 for a giant frozen 1.5kg pizza of lots of kinds smothered in ingredients, $60 per kilo Wagyu beef, and more. The fresh food section was massive, you could genuinely do your full fresh food shop there  for your large family, not so much a small family. The best thing about the place was the workers EVERYWHERE dishing out samples of beef, lamb, chocolate pringles, ranch dressing, biscuits, there was so much to try and of course we tried everything. Smart too, because now I can also say that the lamb and beef were yummy and tender.

Having a quick peek in electrical found a broad range of electrical items, (fridges to hair straighteners) but only 1 type of each thing. An example, Samsung 691 litre side by side fridge, was originally $1999, marked down to $1,499 for the floor model. A quick comparison with the Good Guys online shows that they offer the same model for $2057, but the cynic in me wonders how much more they would shave off the price in person a/for cash, and b/ for the floor model

Another drawcard for Costco is all the items that you do not see in the mainstream shops here in Australia. There was a 2 pack of a massive bottle of Hershey's chocolate sauce that we bought in America and have been rationing ever since for only $8.29 for 2. We paid more than that for 1 in America. Also sacks of uncooked cookie dough $16.89 for 2.72kgs, massive bottle of ranch dressing for $9.99, Reeces peanut butter cups (drool!) $15.99 for 1.58kgs and lots of other treats and foods we have come to associate with our favourite holiday destination.

The items I've detailed is just the tip of the iceberg. Like I said, think Bunnings. Massive big warehouse with dozens of aisles, toys, clothes and so much food. My main goal was to see how a Costco membership would affect the weekly budget, and I think I've seen enough savings to back up a membership. For me, the big issues remain that Costco is 1 hour away, so a shopping trip there is a big outing, but also that I am very susceptible to alot of the other products they are selling. By the time I finished in there this time I spent easily $60 I should not have on items that are pure luxury - money I don't have. Lets face it, I did not NEED those Reeces peanut butter cups. Nor did I NEED (but it was a total bargain!) the castle doll house that I bought Miss Lolly for $30 marked down from $100 because it was the last one left after Christmas. Its still on Amazon at $89.99 so BARGAIN! Its huge and complete with furniture. I foresee many a princess letting down her tresses from these turrets.

Hopefully this post will help anyone else trying to work out if a Costco membership is worth it. If you live close enough to factor the trip into a routine fortnightly/monthly shop, its absolutely worth it. Especially if you buy some of the key brands I have mentioned - if you are a Huggies buyer then these savings will stack up over your nappy changing lifetime.
Has anyone else been to Costco? I'd love to hear your experiences too.


  1. I have been with my mum and found many things to be great, such as mozzarella cheese and frozen berries (2 things we have a lot of in this house). But you do need to know your prices.

    Did you know if you have an ABN the membership is $55 instead?

  2. I don't think I'm going to re-register this year. For one, it's ages from my house and secondly, if I'm organised and look out for specials, I can make big savings. I did like it for the random toys. Big savings there but a potluck situation.

  3. I want to go to one if we ever get one, but then I think if I buy some of these food items that they sell in large quantities, where will I put it? I have zero room now!

    (via FYBF)

    1. And some of these things are in HUGE quantities, we have the room but even so it can take ages to go through some of the bulk buys

  4. I have always wondered if the whole Costco thing was worth the effort.
    Though I know I would be the same in that I would walk out with a hundred extra things I didn't need because I couldn't refuse a bargain.

    1. Thats my biggest problem! Like wow! CK undies for only $5 a pair! But I really don't need CK undies....


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