The Shoppers Guide: When to Shop Wholesale and When Not to
Wholesale shops can be a great way to save money on your monthly shop, however, they may also cost you more if used incorrectly. I’ve written posts before about how shopping at Costco can save you bucket loads each month, yet I never delved into which products actually can cost more from the various wholesale retailers.
Wholesale stores generally fall under the same principles as £1 Pound / $1 Dollar shops where the perceived concept is that everything is cheaper. Whilst this is generally the case across the board, the owners also know that certain products cost less in supermarkets (such as promotional items). What they're counting on though is that you will buy them anyway, as a result of being lulled into saving mode upon stepping through their front doors.
Costco are known for their superhero prices in a number of product categories. Yet if you are not a regular there, it's worth mentioning that a membership is required to shop at their stores. If on the off chance you forget this, the store will allow you to still shop there although it'll cost you an additional 5-10% for the 'privilege' which will be added on top of your bill. Something else worth pointing out is the fact that if you have a Costco gift card in your possession, it can be used to buy a one day membership. This can sometimes work out cheaper than the extra 5-10% extra that non-members would have to pay (depending how much you end up spending in-store).
Wholesale shopping is certainly becoming more popular, but unsurprisingly, with popularity comes queues of people. The best time to head down to wholesales stores is generally morning time on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, or anytime during the morning or mid afternoon on weekdays. Although you may end up missing the free samples, you'll also be dodging the crowds and all the stress that comes with waiting. Not to mention the precious time you'll be saving too.
Computers, televisions and tablets are items that tend to be very competitively priced at wholesale stores. You wont get the expertise or the selection that you would in specialist stores, but if you know what you want, get the advice you need from a large electronics store but then buy it at a wholesale store to maximise your savings.
Floral stores don’t usually have as much variety or even provide delivery options, but they do always provide seasonal flowers. Most bouquets usually provide generous amounts of flowers for the price and can save you a considerable amount of money compared to your local florist.
Wholesale stores don’t have the volume of foot traffic as traditional supermarket stores, which is why they tend to pick a few select, top selling items rather than an entire range. For example they may stock one or two better options of popular tents or BBQ’s. They use this tactic on other items as well such as sporting goods, camping equipment, Christmas trees and gardening tools to attract customers into their stores.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, alcohol at wholesale stores offer unbeatable prices on certain products. Wine departments at stores like Costco provide a good selection of popular wines at very good prices generally. If you are interested in other products then even store branded spirits and beers can often provide great quality for the price. Next time you head there, have a look at the alcohol section. All products within this section are usually very competitively priced, making wholesale alcohol a safe bet.
Party foods can be expensive in most supermarkets, especially if you buy pre-prepared items. Nothing compares to the price of preparing them yourself but, this can be a timely process which most would rather avoid. Wholesale stores can really benefit your wallet with the purchase of items such as pizzas, pre-roasted chickens, deli trays and bakery items, especially when you compare them to a specialist delis or even a supermarket delis.
Baking ingredients in my experience have been very affordable at wholesale stores. If you use a lot of flour, vanilla, sugar or olive oil then you will generally find great prices for these items compared to supermarkets and in some cases even grocery stores with combined coupon deals.
If you need flee preventative items for your furry friend, wholesale stores can provide heavily discounted options along with doggy clean-up bags, dog / cat food and cat litter. If you need a special diet food for your animal on the other hand, then unfortunately wholesale isn’t the place for you. For large quantities of standard pet food though, feel confident that these guys will have some enticing options for you.
Items You Wont Save On
Besides the items above that I have mentioned, there are also items which hardly differ in price compared to supermarkets. There will be certain exceptions, but a general rule of practice for the following items can be taken. Especially as wholesale stores are usually further away and if you are driving specifically for the following items, it might not be worth the additional cost in fuel.
Items that don’t generally differ in price from supermarkets are things like:
- Soft & Sports drinks
- Canned goods
- Bathroom products e.g. razors, toothpaste and shampoo
- Ready to bake items
- Cleaning supplies e.g. dishwasher tabs, detergent, dish soaps etc
- “Junk Food” cookies, fries, crackers
- Granola bars, pre-portioned snacks
Applying a few smart shopping strategies to your weekly shop can help you save money and utilise the offers from both wholesale and retail stores. If after reading this post you realise that a membership might be worth its weight in gold for you or your family, I’m glad I helped.
To read more information about Costco check out this article on Buckscoop.