Buying in Bulk: Are You Really Saving?
Purchasing from Membership-Only Companies
Member-only warehouses offer big savings in exchange for your loyalty as a customer. By paying an annual fee, ranging from $25 to $500 dollars a year, depending on the business and level of membership you desire, you gain access to the warehouse to buy products at a lower cost than the local grocery store.
Three of the most popular member-only stores are:
- Sam’s Club
Not sure which one you’d like to join? Review this comparison.
While the concept – cost-savings by buying in bulk – is enticing, are these stores truly cheaper than traditional grocery store brands like Publix, Winn-Dixie, Harris-Teeter, Trader Joe’s and Wegmans?
Are Membership Warehouse Clubs Cheaper Than Traditional Grocers?
In an investigation with The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), contributor Matthew Pryor compared the prices of grocery store items at Sam’s Club, an American chain of membership-only retail warehouse clubs owned and operated by Walmart. He found that Sam’s Club offered an average savings of 31% when compared to his local grocer. This amount is worth the annual membership he pays, Pryor says.
Other reports indicate that certain types of products are cheaper when purchased in bulk. A report by Southern Savers shows that dairy is among the least expensive purchases in a membership-only warehouse store.
While the prices may be cheaper it is important to note that the big warehouses have their downside as well:
- Not everything is sold in bulk
- There are limited varieties (less than your local grocer)
- You often have to store items that are not used as quickly like deodorant, paper towels and water bottles
- There are no sales
- You cannot use coupons (BJ’s is an exception)
- The environment is less than inviting, usually a warehouse
Best & Worst Products to Buy at Membership Warehouses
The U.S. News and World Report shared a list in 2011 of items you should always buy in bulk:
- Toilet paper
- Soap and shampoo
- Office supplies
- Non-perishable foods
- Blank CD’s and DVD’s
- Laundry detergent
Some popular items that experts suggest you purchase at your local grocery store include:
- Name-brand cereal
The Bottom Line
Ultimately you are the only person who can determine if a warehouse store is best for you. Buying in bulk might be right for a family of five, but could prove to be a hassle for newlyweds.
Keep these points in mind before you purchase in bulk:
- Expiration Dates – Make sure you and your family will be able to consume the food before it goes bad.
- Sales Tactics – Don’t purchase something just because it is cheap. The dollar section at the front of the store may seem like a bargain, but it is a tactic to induce you to spend more money.
- Storage – Do you have the space to store the bulk items you want to purchase?
- Coupons – Just because you have a coupon for an item doesn’t mean you need to buy it.
- Membership Fees – Is the amount of money you’re saving greater than the membership fee you are paying?
- Gas and Time – Is the amount you are saving worth the extra trip to another store location (consider time and travel)?
By comparing receipts and considering the factors above, you can determine if purchasing products in bulk from membership-only warehouses is right for your family.
- The Ultimate Guide to Buying in Bulk, by Trent Hamm
- Does Buying in Bulk Really Save you Money, by Matthew Pryor
- Buying in Bulk to Save Money, by beingfrugal.net
- 10 Things You Should Buy in Bulk, by Matt Sailor
- Dry Goods and Staples: Costs for Packaged vs. case vs. Bulk, by motherearthnews.com
- Dry Bulk Food Storage, by American Preppers Network
- Advantages & Disadvantages of Buying Bulk to Save on Unit Pricing, by Heather Topham Wood
- Bulk Buying Basics: What to Buy, How to Store, and Money Saving tips, by wisebread.com
- What to Buy at Costco versus Your Grocery Store, by Melanie Pinola
- Saving Money by Buying in Bulk, by AskCateandKyle
- Tips for Buying in Bulk, by cbsnews.com
- Buying in Bulk, by education.com/worksheet
- Dollar Tree, by dollartree.com/office-school/learning-educational/610c616/index.cat
- Preparing Food in Bulk, by webstaurantstore.com
- Preserving Wild Foods, by Matthew Weingarten
- Bulk-Zero Waste Home, by Zero Waste Home, available on Google play for free
- Boxed Wholesale, by Boxed, available on iTunes for free
- SavingStar-grocery Savings, by SavingStar, Inc., available on iTunes for free