Grocery shopping is the one kind of shopping that has to be done and no other way around it. That being said, most of us are trying to shop smart, get healthy options, and also not spend too much. Big box warehouse stores can be of help when it comes to savings, so we went to Costco, Sam's Club, and Smart & Final to compare merchandise and prices. We were primarily looking for ways to save, but also the ability to buy products that you are used to and quantities that you are also used to.
Warehouse stores are pretty much known for big sizes, so finding regular packages was not an easy task. If regular sizes were not available, then we at least looked for items and brands that we shop for at regular traditional stores. We found out that Smart & Final had the most products from our market basket, 77%. Other warehouse stores were a bit lower in those numbers – Sam's Club with 45% and Costco with only 39%. So we would go to Smart & Final to look for our staples, but there are other considerations as we will see further.
Our price analysis included the known brands from our market basket, regardless of size and quantity of packages. Our goal was to show you the savings you can have and that we could do by calculating price per once or per any other unit. This way we could compare "apples to apples" and clearly show the difference that is not affected by the size. Warehouse products enjoy better prices simply because of bulk factor, but we could prove or disprove those differences. After completing our research, we got results that we kind of expected to get – warehouse clubs do indeed save you money. Costco and Sam's Club both beat Safeway's prices by 33%.
Safeway stores are located in California and owned by Kroger Corporation. Smart & Final beat the above mentioned chain grocery store by 11%. Sam's Club and Costco can definitely benefit your wallet quite significantly, but the same can't be said about Smart & Final, because you would save more money at Target, Walmart, Grocery Outlet, WinCo, and Food Maxx.
There are some other benefits to warehouse stores like Costco, which in addition to potential savings also get continuous positive reviews for their meat selection and customer service. One word of caution though – despite the savings that Costco and Sam's Club offer, you have to shop there a lot and use up all the groceries to justify annual membership fees. Those fees will wipe out all your savings if you do some shopping just a couple of times per year. Smart & Final doesn't have membership, but they also don't offer very high savings.
What we have found very interesting is that both Costco and Sam's Club were 11% cheaper than Walmart and 21% cheaper than Target. Smart & Final had essentially the same prices as Walmart and Target.
- $10 OFF Grocery
- Free Delivery on Grocery Order over $50
- 80% OFF Select Rollbacks
Our recommendation is to acquire one of those warehouse memberships and get your favorite non-perishable brands there. When it comes to groceries, it depends on the size of your family. If you have a large family and don't let anything spoil, then go ahead and shop at Costco or Sam's Club, but otherwise you would be losing all your savings with throwing away spoiled vegetables and fruit. Finally, a lot of shopping decisions come from personal preferences because there are times when just getting the bottom dollar is not everything.