Costco is one of those stores that really seems to have everything. 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.
When it comes to big box stores like Costco, certain items are no-brainers in the value department. Just about everything bought in bulk will save you money in the long run if you don’t let any of it go to waste, which is why non-perishables, like sugar, and foods that can be frozen (like chicken breasts and steaks, including Wagyu beef, apparently) are always good buys. Just don’t forget that some items, like condiments and spices, have shorter shelf lives than you may think. Plus, prices on kitchen appliances, housewares, over-the-counter drugs, and automotive equipment are all very competitive.
However, there are plenty of items sold at Costco that you’d be better off purchasing somewhere else, for a variety of reasons. Some are simply more expensive at Costco than at other stores, others are of poorer quality than the competition's brands, and still others are so perishable that the odds of your not having to throw some away are slim.
Costco is one of those places where we just believe that we’re getting a bargain, so while shopping there we tend to go a little bit more overboard than we would otherwise. There’s actually a name for being seduced into making impulse buys by the prospect of getting a deal, and either regretting the purchase or being forced to throw it out when it expires: The Costco Effect. It’s all a part of Costco’s strategy, and it ends up costing you more money than you originally set out to spend. So keep in mind that it pays to be a bit more judicious the next time you head over to Costco.
Here are some items you'd be better off buying elsewhere.
Books are one department where Amazon has Costco beat. The online retailer often has the best book prices around (if you're not already reading everything on a Kindle). You can also score a great deal on used books, too.
2. CDs and DVDs
You’d also be better off shopping for CDs and movies on Amazon. The prices you’ll find at Costco may be slightly cheaper than other electronics stores, but you’ll still get a better deal if you shop online.
3. Fruit and Other Perishables
[PRO TIP]— mike taddow (@taddmike) June 20, 2016
coolest place to be in the summer:
the fruit area at costco pic.twitter.com/zrNPLdvu5M
Buying food in bulk is always a gamble because there’s the definite possibility of the food going bad before you can use it. Fruits and vegetables, for example, have a pretty 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.
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. Plus, you won't have to worry about fitting those bulky boxes in your car trunk.
5. Designer Clothes
Oy to the world! Almost 80 outside and xmas music and winter clothes display at Costco made me cry. Not tears of joy pic.twitter.com/ulvlq0SPuq— Betsy Rosenberg (@Betsy_Rosenberg) November 11, 2016
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.