Costco costly: Price Comparison

Melbourne's Costco I haven’t been to the Melbourne Costco yet and based on what I’ve read online, I don’t think I ever will.  Don’t get me wrong, Costco is a great idea and whenever I am in the US, I try visiting there partly out of curiosity and partly to get a large quantity of US only products to bring home. But for a country with very little buying power, general isolation from the world, and the fairly good prices of local markets and Aldi, I don’t see the savvy shopper saving money.

Here’s why.

Buckscoop has a fairly extensive list put together by it’s members. The problem with their comparison is that they are using Coles and Woolworths/Safeway online which are mostly different prices to their physical stores. There is no comparison with Aldi or any local markets. Let’s take a few common items a person would purchase.

Product Costco Price Aldi Price Coles/Woolworths Price Total Saved/Lost
Wholemeal Bread (sold in 2) $1.25 $2.69 $1.70 -$.45
Chicken Breasts (per kg) $11.99 $9.99 $9.99 +$2.00
Tasty Cheese (per kg) $8.00 $7.49 $7.49 +$.51
Cage Eggs (dz -sold in 30) $.17 $.22 $.24 -$.60
Milk Light 3L $3.19 $3.66 $3.99 -$.47

So that’s about $1 dearer at Costco. I suppose we could remove the chicken, and we save $1, but is that really worth it?

How about the prices for those 1 off items. Let’s compare the sale items at Coles and Woolworths this week.

Product Costco Price Coles/Woolworths Price Total Saved/Lost
Nescafe (500g) $14.99 $14.99 -
Olive Oil (4L) $24.99 $19.99 +$5.00
Solo (1L) $.97 $.71 +$.25

So that’s about $5-6 saved by using Woolworth and Coles.

The comparison made here is is just for food products and there may be savings on some of the other goods such as clothes and electronics. Personally, I can’t see it worth spending the money to travel to Costco, pay for parking and deal with a crowded store when I have a choice of hundreds of Woolworths, Coles, Aldis and local markets to choose from. It amazes me that people signed up for a membership without even knowing the prices and worse yet people who drive in from far away (even interstate) to get some bargains from Costco.

Wisebread (a popular American budget blog) recently published an article stating some of the same arguments with the U.S. branches. The most success smart buyers have is if they can find a specific item significantly cheaper than other retailers. The commenters on the Wisebread article point to diapers as a big saver. OzSoapbox found that premium cat food was good in bulk.

Even though it’s $60 to join, if you are not satisfied with your membership, you can get a refund. Take your shopping list there, compare prices, if you are not happy ask for a refund. Everyone shops differently and the prices from Coles/Woolworth’s  multibuy specials may be a recent marketing challenge to compete with Costco. The big winner in all of this is the Docklands precinct. Every year the areas adds new unique features that is transforming it from a ghost town into a thriving surburb. Now if only we can get that wheel fixed.

8 Comments so far

  1. OzSoapbox (unregistered) on September 6th, 2009 @ 12:26 am

    The thing to remember is at Costco you’re getting premium stuff though.

    For example the $9.99 chicken breasts from Coles/Woolworths are from the deli, sit in a tray of liquid fat all day and are generally worse for wear.

    The ‘premium’ sealed chicken breasts from coles are usually $14-$15 a kg.

    Unless Aldi have dropped their price recently, I don’t remember their chicken breasts being $9.99/kg either.

    Meanwhile the meat from Costco is beautiful premium stuff.

    Aldi milk is garbage and goes off before the useby date, it also makes Milo taste a bit sour – haven’t had that problem with costco’s 3L milk yet.

    Cheese again, Aldi and Coles home brand cheese isn’t all that great. Costco cheese is premium at a similar price (they have a huge range of other cheeses too).

    The other thing is that people are forgetting that Coles/Woolworths have introduced all these specials since Costco opened and think these were regular specials. Half the specials going on at Coles/Woolworths that are matching Costco’s price were unheard of before Costco opened.

    It’s just marketing crap from the supermarkets that have been ripping you off for years.

    Having said that some things Costco are doing a dodgy on, for example the 330ml Coke slabs. They were $12.99 when they opened, then they went up to $14 or so and now I think it’s like $16? 3 price rises in 2 weeks is a bit much.


  2. neil on September 6th, 2009 @ 12:45 am

    Thanks for the comment and doing the legwork on Costco.

    I can’t speak for chicken at all locations but from my regular local branches, they tend to have high turnover. Either way, sitting there the whole day wrapped up or in the deli, they taste the same to me. The Aldi price is based on their website but seems their prices are cheaper only recently.

    I bought a 1 KG non Home Brand (Mainland I think) this week for $7.49 but I think it comes down to timing with Coles/Woolworths.

    I may give Costco a try if I can easily get a refund.


  3. Buckscoop (unregistered) on September 6th, 2009 @ 1:01 am

    .

    COSTCO PRICE LIST

    More price points, further detail on electronics

    http://www.buckscoop.com.au/forums/deals-bargains-coupons-vouchers-cashback/18228-costco-melbourne-docklands-prices-comparison.html

    Not easy to come by, especially as they do not normally produce catalogues or advertise.

    .


  4. andrew (unregistered) on September 7th, 2009 @ 10:34 am

    Neil, you really need to get into the store to see the quality. Comparing prices online isn’t really comparing the same items. Costco’s quality is far superior to Coles or safeway especially chicken, meats etc.


  5. adrock2xander (mel_john) on September 8th, 2009 @ 12:28 pm

    What’s everybody doing here? Get back to Whirlpool! :O

    I found the condiments – dips, jams, peanut butters etc – to be extremely cheap. Looking at almost 60% of the Safeways and Coles prices.

    Toilet papers were being purchased in bulk, but I still think Big W has an upper hand here with their bulk Big W 2 ply with marine prints x40 going for, iirc, $17.90. Costco can’t beat that.

    Cereals were a little sad with the selection, but the prices were about $1 cheaper each box.

    Button mushrooms, normally $8.99/kg, going for $7/kg.

    I didn’t find their meats to be cheap unless you’re looking at purchasing good quality cuts in bulk.

    Milk is cheap. 3L for like $2.20.

    So is eggs. A tray of 30 is only $4.xx. (can’t remember the cents).

    Can’t remember everything I bought when I went there two weeks’ ago but I think for your everyday grocery it’s worth your while. If you’re bothered to drive to Docklands, that is.

    And yes Neil, head on down. You don’t need to subscribe to it. Just go in with a mate who’s already a member. I did that and came out with $230 worth of groceries.


  6. Arocha (unregistered) on September 14th, 2009 @ 5:33 am

    The thing to remember is at Costco you’re getting premium stuff though.

    For example the $9.99 chicken breasts from Coles/Woolworths are from the deli, sit in a tray of liquid fat all day and are generally worse for wear.

    The ‘premium’ sealed chicken breasts from coles are usually $14-$15 a kg.

    Unless Aldi have dropped their price recently, I don’t remember their chicken breasts being $9.99/kg either.

    Meanwhile the meat from Costco is beautiful premium stuff.

    Aldi milk is garbage and goes off before the useby date, it also makes Milo taste a bit sour – haven’t had that problem with costco’s 3L milk yet.

    Cheese again, Aldi and Coles home brand cheese isn’t all that great. Costco cheese is premium at a similar price (they have a huge range of other cheeses too).

    The other thing is that people are forgetting that Coles/Woolworths have introduced all these specials since Costco opened and think these were regular specials. Half the specials going on at Coles/Woolworths that are matching Costco’s price were unheard of before Costco opened.

    It’s just marketing crap from the supermarkets that have been ripping you off for years.

    Having said that some things Costco are doing a dodgy on, for example the 330ml Coke slabs. They were $12.99 when they opened, then they went up to $14 or so and now I think it’s like $16? 3 price rises in 2 weeks is a bit much….


  7. Stefan (unregistered) on September 14th, 2009 @ 10:03 pm

    You gotta remember you get PREMIUM products … there are no “Home Brand” itmes. I got 90 Cascade Premium dishwasher tabs for $15. Finish 50 pack is about $20-$26 at Coles. Cinnamon 300g was $4!!! 28g at Coles is $2
    I got Wild Caught deep sea Alaskan frozen salmon 1.2kg fillets for $30 (not the farmed rubbish you get here). I got paper towels and Kirkland loo paper.. do your homework! The loo paper was 3 ply and 260 sheets per roll. The paper towels are so big they don’t fit in the holder!
    On average you will find the goods at the best price Coles and Woolworths offer form time to time. 1kg premium frozen berries $6.49 ! 700g in Coles is $9.90. Organic 1.3kg ground coffee $11.69. Coles price is $8-$10 for only 200g. Costco is well worth it.


  8. Camo (unregistered) on September 25th, 2009 @ 10:38 am

    First up, Costco does have a home brand. “Kirkland” – and from the kirkland stuff I had, it’s average.
    Agree with most on the current state of fruit/veg and meat-fish-poultry. It looked well done when I went there.. but:
    Gotta go to doglands to find the shop;
    Have to pay for parking as well as paying your $60 for membership;
    You’re not actually paying any less on the items people are saying “quality” about, and seriously support your local butchers/fishos/chicken shops, people. Cheaper than supermarkets and better quality anyway.
    Consumer electrics pricing is AVERAGE at best. You cant haggle at Costco and no-one pays shelf price for consumer electrics in Australia.. so you pays yer $60 and finds a price on an item, then go get your membership money back, take Costco’s price to JB HiFi and they’ll beat it.

    Overall.. went there with high expectations.. and they were not met. The fresh food was probably the best thing about the place, but it wasn’t cheap enough nor of such mind blowing high quality to justify paying to shop there.

    Oh and as for the bottle shop – I bought a slab of VB for $32 at Dan Murph’s on the way home from Costco where it was $37.. and I didn’t have to pay to shop at Dan’s. And the wine guys gave me a few samples & discussed the relative merits of the 2005 seasons in Victoria vs NSW and SA. And their cleanskins (“kirklands” at costco) aren’t priced the same as their branded stuff.

    You can do just as well price and quality wise almost anywhere you go. And since nowhere else charges you to go there, why go to Costco?



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