KSL INVESTIGATES

KSL Investigates: Is your warehouse membership worth the cost to shop?

Feb 28, 2018, 1:50 PM | Updated: 9:59 pm
...

SALT LAKE CITY — If you have a family, you know grocery shopping can eat up a big chunk of your monthly budget.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a family of four that’s counting its pennies can wind up spending more than $600 a month. A family that’s not as thrifty can wind up spending as much as $1,300 a month.

With that in mind, the KSL Investigators wanted to know if purchasing a warehouse membership would shave a significant amount of money off a family’s grocery budget.

The cost to shop at a warehouse club depends on the type of membership a customer purchases. The basic annual membership for Costco is $60, and at Sam’s, it’s $45. An enhanced yearly membership costs more — $120 and $100 respectively — but earns cash back with purchases.

With a list of 58 items — from eggs, to milk, diapers, batteries, snacks, poultry and a whole lot more — the KSL Investigators hit aisles at Winco, Smith’s, and Walmart. They also researched the cost of similar items at online retail giant Amazon.

They wanted to know how prices at Costco and Sam’s Club stacked up.

To keep their survey as fair as possible, the team compared regular, not sale prices; and did not use any coupon discounts for the test. They also stuck with name-brand items instead of the traditionally less-expensive store or generic brand.

After hours of pushing carts around while jotting down prices and quantities, they grabbed calculators and started tallying price per ounce, price per item, price per pound.

And with the results, the team was sold: If a family wants to cut its grocery budget, a warehouse membership is worth the cost to shop.

Teresa Hunsaker, a consumer science educator at Utah State University, agrees.

“It’ll pay for itself,” she said.

Sam’s Club offered the best deal for 34 items, or more than half of the items on the team’s shopping list. For example, milk was $3.21 a gallon cheaper than ordering it from Amazon. The team saved $1.60 on 10 yogurts compared to Smith’s. Sam’s beat Costco’s price on lunchmeat by $2.50 per pound.

Overall, Costco’s prices came in second and Winco was a close third. Amazon and Walmart finished behind Smith’s in our survey.

Bottom line: regular trips to the grocery aisles at the warehouse club can recoup the annual fee and, in the long run, save money on groceries. But there’s a caveat.

“It’s probably worth it if I have done my homework on prices, if I have taken a look at what we actually need, in the quantities that we will actually use them,” Hunsaker said.

Warehouse club memberships can cost from $60 to $120 a year.

Warehouse stores sell items in bulk and, in some cases, even a family of four might not eat through a gallon of ranch salad dressing before it spoils or a six-pound bag of pretzels before it goes stale. And figuring out where to store 45 rolls of toilet paper can be … well, challenging.

In fact, a recent study by Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business said warehouse shopping can make you spend 5 percent more because you can overspend. Again, buying in bulk can mean you’ll end up feeding your garbage disposal with a lot of food that’s gone bad before it’s eaten.

Plus, consider all those impulse buys that can happen inside a warehouse store packed with everything from kid’s clothes to office chairs. So, maybe it’s not always about price per ounce.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

KSL Investigates

After a contractor got paid, customers say he stopped responding and walked off the job. (KSL TV)...
Matt Gephardt and Cindy St. Clair

Felony charges for contractor accused of ripping off several Utahns

After a contractor got paid, customers say he stopped responding and walked off the job. A Get Gephardt investigation found this particular contractor has walked off so many jobs it could land him behind bars.
1 day ago
Christopher Browning in court....
Daniella Rivera & Keira Farrimond

Police were warned rapist could reoffend 24 years ago. Now he’s charged again.

A convicted rapist paroled in December faced a Utah judge today on 10 new felony charges including aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping.
2 days ago
...
Matt Gephardt and Cindy St. Clair

After new homes flood, residents question if builder or Mother Nature is to blame

Several new homes in a Lehi community flooded during rainstorms earlier this month. When they say the home builder told them they weren’t responsible, they decided to Get Gephardt to investigate.
3 days ago
...
Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: The ‘most used’ photos to catfish victims in romance scams

KSL Investigator Matt Gephardt shows us some of the most widely used photos in romance scams and how we can protect ourselves.
4 days ago
Americans are using their credit cards more often as the economy opens....
Matt Gephardt

Gephardt Busts Inflation: The key to saving money on your credit card bills

More Utahns are carrying debt, but the thing is – many of those folks have no idea how much interest they are paying on their debt.
8 days ago
...
Matt Gephardt and Cindy St. Clair

AmeriGas customers nationwide Get Gephardt after waiting weeks for propane

Calls to Get Gephardt have come from across the country, all having the same problem: missing propane deliveries. So, where’s the gas?
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
KSL Investigates: Is your warehouse membership worth the cost to shop?