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Shopping at Warehouse Clubs

by Sandy Shields

General Shopping Tips to Use

Before shopping

...Know the prices of items you are planning to purchase.
...Keep track of the UNIT prices, and sales cycle in your area.
...Make and take along a price list, coupons, and calculator.
...Eat before you go.
...Buddy-buy with friends or family to split large purchases and save.
...If possible, shop alone.
...Take cash only and you will not spend over your limit.
...Create meal plans based on what you have and loss leader sales.

While shopping

...Use coupons if store accepts them.
...Avoid impulse buys.
...Don't buy convenience foods.
...Remember that it's not a deal if you can't use it.
...Remember the difference between wants and needs.
...Remember larger is not always cheaper. Smaller is not always cheaper.
...Remember that advertised items are not necessarily the cheapest.
...Check the bottom and top shelves for best prices.
...Watch for unadvertised specials and floor model markdowns.
...Avoid disposable items.
...Check for "multi-purchase" discounts, or Buy ? Get ? Frees.
...If you find a great deal, stock up with enough to last until the next sale.
...Have the butcher cut up larger cuts of meat for you.

After shopping

...Send for rebates. Sam's now has a monthly rebate catalog for big savings.

Which items are usually a good deal?

Gasoline - A Great Deal! Milk (freezes well), cheese, meat, and bakery goods. Batteries, cassette and video tapes, appliances, books, office equipment, home entertainment, some frozen foods, fresh fruit and vegetables.

Which items are usually not a good deal?

Paper products, cereals, pet food, can goods, and snacks.

Advantages - Disadvantages


...Saves time.
...Save money on certain items.
...If you have a big freezer, you can save money by buying meat and dairy products and freezing them.


...Must have storage space to store big purchases.
...Must have ability to consume what you buy.
...Not always the best deal - must compare prices.
...Membership Fee required.
...Sell mostly brand name products. Store brands and generic are often cheaper.
...Leads to consumers eating more because they buy in larger quantities.
...No price-matching.
...Many consumers buy everything at these clubs thinking that they are saving money, but in reality no one club or store has the best deals on everything.


Shopping your local warehouse club once a month or so is a good idea, but I do not recommend doing all of your shopping there.

I conducted a survey recently on my website,, asking my visitors to list their "favorite way to save money". Out of 1914 total votes, 641 people said that shopping at warehouse clubs is their favorite way to save. Their second favorite way is shopping at thrift stores, and their third favorite way is "shopping the sales". This surprised me! I thought more people would have voted shopping the sales.

Warehouse clubs are very popular because they save time, they are convenient, and they offer many products which the consumer can buy in bulk sizes. Plus, they sell gasoline at low prices.

Personally, I usually find better deals at my local grocery by shopping the sales. I do shop warehouse clubs once a month for specials and bulk items, and I definitely try to buy gas there whenever possible.


Sandy is a freelance writer and webmaster of She enjoys living the frugal life, saving money, and helping others to do the same. Subscribe to her newsletter to receive more money-saving ideas and frugal tips. Reprint permission granted with this footer included. Copyright 1999-2003.

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