It’s sometimes easy to find good deals at warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club, but we’ve all walked out at least once with a bigger receipt than we were anticipating.
According to MarketWatch, despite their reputation for low prices, these warehouse clubs aren’t always the best places to be spending your hard-earned loot.
“Sometimes you can get better deals at other places or you should skip buying some items,” Matthew Ong, retail analyst for NerdWallet.com, told MarketWatch. However, “what you should buy is a longer list — their reputation holds.”
Experts suggest you may want to avoid some of these items sold at warehouse clubs (or at least, do a thorough price comparison first).
1. Paper goods
Watch the weekly circulars and sales, and you’re bound to find paper goods (paper towels and toilet paper, but even paper plates and napkins) for cheaper at Target, Wal-Mart or your local grocery store.
2. Condiments, sunscreen and other surprising perishables
When you buy these items in bulk, you risk watching them waste away in your cupboards (with the exception of items that can be frozen). You may not realize what’s perishable — most condiments will expire in six months, and the same goes for most sunscreens and beauty products.
You might be able to shop around at retailers like Target or Wal-Mart to find better deals, even a few cents adds up over time. Or you could buy in bulk through the Amazon Mom program, which delivers diapers straight to your door with a 20% discount.
4. Laundry detergent
Buying detergent in bulk may seem like a good idea at the time, but these cleaning products lose their punch very quickly. After about 6 months to a year, you’ll notice that their cleaning power isn’t what it once was. (Of course, if you do a ton of laundry, this wouldn’t be an issue.)
5. Books, CDs and DVDs
It might be tempting, especially when they tend to put these items near the registers, but you can usually find much lower prices online (ahem, Amazon).
1. Rotisserie chicken
Today Money went on to add things you should buy at warehouse clubs. Costco sells 60 million rotisserie chickens each year — and at $4.99 each, they make a fast and cheap dinner option. Swing by their frozen section too, if you have the freezer space, and stock up on a ton of meat, vegetable and meal choices.
2. Gift cards
Warehouse clubs tend to sell major restaurant and retailer gift cards for 15 to 20 percent below face value — perfect for that upcoming birthday party or holiday.
3. Over-the-counter medicine and prescriptions
Costco and Sam’s Club pharmacies regularly beat prices found at grocery or drug stores.
4. Soda and alcohol
It’s all about volume. If you buy soda, beer or wine in giant 32-packs, you’ll find they’re much cheaper per unit than other stores.
5. Kitchen appliances
Looking for a new microwave or blender? List price on these items tends to be much lower at warehouse stores — Ong said Costco is especially aggressive on pricing.
Associated Press photos