Warehouse Clubs: Quantity Doesn’t Always Mean Savings

by Gina Blitstein · 1 comment

You buy a lot of groceries for your family — boxes. jars, cans and bottles by the trunk-full. A couple measly boxes of cereal aren’t going to meet your needs, nor are a few bottles of apple juice — so you buy a lot of them — and frequently. The cost of feeding a family can be outrageous!

Where can you buy in the quantity you need to feed a family without breaking the bank? Warehouse clubs sell large-size items and multi-packs which may be more in line with the quantities you need. These clubs advertise that they can pass savings on to their customers based upon these areas where they cut their own costs:

  • Buying from suppliers in huge quantity making individual items cheaper
  • Providing large sizes, which means less individual packaging which adds to cost
  • “Warehouse” environment which is more sparse than a regular grocery store and therefore costs less to maintain
  • Lower labor costs because items are sold directly from pallets, not stocked by employees on shelves
  • Often customers bag their own groceries, eliminating the need to hire employees to perform that function
  • Often the store provides empty boxes instead of incurring the expense of providing bags in which to take home groceries

Shopping at warehouse clubs can provide some savings on some items because of these factors, but beware! Don’t make the mistake of thinking that everything is always cheaper at a warehouse club. Keep these factors in mind to make sure that what you buy at warehouse clubs is really a bargain:

  • For better or worse, everything is king-sized. Surrounded by such abundance, there is a temptation to buy a greater quantity than you need. This may lead to spending more than you intend. It also may lead to consuming more than you want or wasting of product and money due to spoilage.
  • Everything purchased in large quantity isn’t necessarily cheaper. It’s a mistake to assume that price per unit is cheaper because you’re buying a lot of something. It’s prudent to know your prices when shopping at warehouse clubs. Put your trusty calculator to task to make sure that the prices really are cheaper in quantity.
  • Most warehouse clubs do not hold sales or accept coupons. It’s frequently possible to get amazing bargains, priced lower than warehouse clubs, at regular grocery stores by redeeming coupons and watching for sales. Warehouse clubs employ “everyday low pricing” and rarely accept manufacturer coupons.
  • Consider your yearly warehouse club dues. At $30 to $50 yearly for membership, it will take substantial time and savings to recoup that upfront outlay of cash before you begin to really realize any savings at all.
  • Selection may be inconsistent. The nature of membership clubs is to buy in bulk from manufacturers and suppliers: therefore, the items they acquire can and will vary. It’s best not to expect particular items when shopping warehouse clubs. Make sure to get your essentials elsewhere before shopping at the warehouse so as not to be disappointed or inconvenienced.
  • Huge selection of peripheral items may tempt you to overbuy. Wandering those aisles full of bargains on electronics, furniture and appliances may tempt you to make purchases you were not intending when you stopped in for the family groceries. Use care not to buy things — even though they are bargain-priced — on impulse.

The bottom line is that warehouse clubs can offer savings for large-quantity purchasing. It’s important, however, to employ common sense when shopping there to avoid being carried away by the perceived savings while locating the true bargains.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Maggie December 22, 2010 at 12:21 am

I don’t shop at places like this because it’s only me.

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