Is Costco Overrated?

So after years of being told to go to Costco and how awesome it is, I finally bit the bullet, bought a membership and drove the ~30 mins to get there but was pretty let down to be honest. Barely anything in the fruit and veg section was cheaper than my local fruit and veg mart. The meat was also really expensive (20-30% more than local butchers), everything needs to be bought in bulk to be cheaper or match woolies/Coles sales e.g. 6 packs of Tim Tams for $12+ ~$2+ a pack but I don't really want 6 packets. In some cases, the specials were cheaper at Coles/woolies without needing to buy in bulk. $10 for a litre of kewpie sesame sauce is good, but again, I'm not going to finish a litre in time.

There are some positives though:

Definitely cheaper if you buy in bulk, have a large family and can finish everything without having to wait for sales
Some things are cheaper like the muffins
$1.99 hotdog and drink
Different variety of things than at Woolies/Coles

Overall, I don't think I'll be returning any time soon. I'm gonna get some shit for this but I still prefer the shopping experience at Coles/woolies. What are people's thoughts?

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  • +3

    yes, where's the poll?

    • Thanks, added

  • Did you find anything interesting in the clothing, toys, electrical, furniture, random goods section?

    • Yeah I had a look, not much of a selection and nothing that really stood out to me. I was interested in the iphone 13 that is $10 cheaper than JBHIFI but it was sold out anyways.

      • +6

        Their buffalo wings, and the large pizza are great buys :\

        • +5

          But keep in mind if u buy their large pizzas it may not fit inside ur household oven… This was discovered by an excited Costco first-timer.

          I find that generally items at Aldi/Coles/woolies are cheaper and better quality than costco for regular grocery items. I can't justify enuff visits to pay for membership

          • @tabitha731: Haha, I too was an excited first-timer and discovered the large pizza didn't fit my oven.

            • +6

              @Indie: mine didn't either.. so i just cut in half and then it fit.

              • +6

                @Archi: I just bought one of their larger ovens.

                • +13

                  @Ozpit: Instructions unclear, now the larger oven doesn’t fit it my kitchen

            • @Indie: You can buy a cooked one in the lunchroom. Perhaps, then keep it warmed up in the oven? That's what I did.

            • @Indie: Cut in half, it will fit

        • +1

          oh that Pizza! The best Pizza around in my humble opinion.

        • -4

          Costco Pizza is good, but comparable to Domino's, just larger.

        • Agree. Love their chicken and mushroom pizza. It's yummy and very good value.

    • I find the non food items generally have enough stuff that I want at enough of a discount to be worth the price of a membership. But I confess that my preference would a to go shopping there with my sister who has a membership and get her to buy me some shit and give her the money for it afterwards.

  • +38

    everything needs to be bought in bulk

    Well, yes. That's the point of Costco. It's savings in bulk.

    But also, the variety is refreshing and quality is higher than Coles/WW too.

    • +16

      But I didn't find the savings to be that much either (laundry, toilet paper). Probably not worth the hassle in storing everything in bulk and having an opened bag of nearly 1kg of chips. I'd probably spend more money to be honest because instead of a $2.50 bag of Doritos, I'm buying a $7 larger bag.

      Yes variety is refreshing but I get that going to springvale or asian marts. I don't think they necessarily have more of a variety compared to Coles/woolies, just a lot of other different products were not used to. Quality, to be determined. Bought some wagyu beef steaks.

      • +23

        Probably not worth the hassle in storing everything in bulk

        To be fair, you're probably not their target customer. The fact that most people walk out with full trolleys (some with several trolleys) shows that they know their market.

        Thier target customer will be the ones that aren't buying in bulk to store them, but the larger families that go through the same amount more frequently. The ones that will only get 2 meals out of a pack of meat, the ones that go through the 2 loaf packs of bread in a week, and the families that go through a $7 bag of chips more quickly.

        I'm single, living on my own, so I'm not their target customer either. But I go about once every 2-3 months. I don't get much fresh stuff, maybe a batch of meat and freeze portions, 1kg of the bacon and freeze in small batches. I do find their fresh cooked chickens to be pretty big for the comparible price. I mostly go through the aisles and see if anything new catches my eye - computer chairs, knives, etc. Get some of the packaged food that lasts a while. I feel I save enough visiting 4 or more times a year to justify the membership fee.

        • Yes, where do they get those big chickens? I’ve never seen anywhere else selling roast chickens that big. And they’re cheaper than Coles and Woolies.

          • +3

            @Ozpit: From what I have heard and read, Costco chickens are 2 months older than the ones at Coles and Woolies.

            So, they are bigger and fatter.

          • @Ozpit: You don't want to know what hormones are in those chickens.

        • +3

          Full trolley doesn’t necessarily mean large families, many a times you’ll notice the repeated items in their cart, either running a restaurant or a mil bar to resell it.
          I have been with Costco (shared membership) and cost me half, so don’t really care about how I recover that money, but I believe the Petrol is definitely cheaper!!

      • +4

        If you track the prices of the things you usually buy, yes, some items are generally the same price as ColesWorth but only when it's half price. So there are definitely bargains to be had, for example bi-carb, books, Ortiz anchovies or washing powder. And as mentioned by someone else, their Kirkland own brand is generally much cheaper, but still excellent quality, plus there are brands available that aren't easily available elsewhere.

        We're a household of two, and we go every few months. It makes it easier if you're able to split the shop with other people, of course.

      • while i agree with you i find the asian stores lack variety and all seem to get the same from the regional wholesaler, from springvale to cragieburn through box hill all the same fast noodles

    • +12

      the variety is refreshing and quality is higher than Coles/WW too


      It's not just about the prices (though there are loads of great deals to be had).

      It's about the stuff that's not available elsewhere, especially the Kirkland brand stuff.

      Kirkland is a cheap "home" brand, but the big difference is that it's HIGHER quality than even the best premium name brands (instead of lower like coles/woolies/etc).

      Their baby wipes, maple syrup, laundry tabs, dishwasher tabs, meat, etc, etc are all both a bit cheaper AND better quality than any other brand.

      Like if Kirkland baby wipes score a 10 out of 10, Huggies are only a 6, and all other supermarket wipe brands are 5 or less.

      • +4

        if Kirkland baby wipes score a 10 out of 10, Huggies are only a 6

        I don't believe that.

        • Oh it's natural to be skeptical if you've never used them. But if you have a baby, try it out for yourself.

      • +2

        Kirkland baby wipes score a 10 out of 10, Huggies are only a 6

        scored by who?

  • +33

    People don't go to Costco to save money, we can't get away without spending less than $400. It's about the experience.

    • +12

      I feel you, spent $300+ today without realizing it. Guess it's just an experience I don't enjoy.

    • +6

      It's not for most shoppers. Doesn't offer much value compared to Kmart, Aldi, Woolies etc etc. I wouldn't say the Quality is better, I feel like somethings are, and others not at all. I'm not a fan of their system to buy fuel, or the rort which is their membership fees. Also the drive there and back isn't as convenient as the regular options which are everywhere. As for variety, they have many of the things you can get elsewhere but a couple that you won't find as easy.

      I just like their food section, and I guess the experience is different.
      No tangible benefits besides that.

    • +7

      I believe if you have a family of 12+, and are not adverse to a limited choice of grocery items or consume a large amount of junk food, you can probably save a few dollars by shopping at Costco. You could get similar value at Aldi, but I find the bakery/produce specials at Coles eclipse most savings from either Costco or Aldi. IGA and Woolworths are the most expensive for us, but of course it depends a lot on what's in your shopping cart/trolley.

      We got the Costco membership just for the fuel price saving, but a few months on their fuel prices are the same as every other service station nearby Costco, so it's not worth it at all.

      If you're not particular about your TV or sound system specs, you can get a good price on new equipment, but searching OzBargain pretty much guarantees you'll find better prices elsewhere. Also, Costco make it hard to find out the prices before you go to their store, which is a PITA.

      • want to ask how do you feel about costco fuel quality? recently I put 2 full tank of unleaded 91 into my car, surprisingly i feellike it run out so fast 7.7l/km that;s pretty high compare to normally 7.1 l/km.

    • +1

      It's about the experience.

      I think you're confusing Costco with Disneyland. :-)

    • +1

      The costco experience is mmeh! I hate their big trolleys. Their foods are generally expensive. Only the Kirkland brands are quality and decently priced.

      I have been a member since they only had one shop in NSW. When thier muffins were $6 a pack and mini/dinner rolls were about $5 for the bag. Oh how much I ate of them dinner rolls back then.

  • +8

    I found you had to know your prices as often the bulk packs were more expensive than buying a single from colesworth. They also dropped lines regularly so you'd suddenly find a favourite was no longer available. Clothes I never came across anything that couldn't be had by ordering from OS, other side of the store I'm not sure I ever bought anything. Meat was rarely cheaper, frozen and cold I didn't buy much as it was a reasonable drive to get home, fruit and veg was same price as local. Only good things was stuff that wasn't available in Aust otherwise but that was minimal. Overall after a couple of years I didn't renew my membership as I wasn't getting value from it.

  • +4

    I still find value in it, but less than say 5 years ago. They have some really good quality products but it's more of an ad hoc shopping trip now rather than regular.

    • Yes its only for adhoc. I like the savings on tyres and fuel but membership cost means that you are not really saving in the whole scheme of things.

  • +1

    We had a Costco membership years ago. We also went shopping beforehand with a friend who had membership, to see if it was worthwhile joining. Back then most savings occurred when buying in bulk but agree with your comments which is why we never renewed. Most memorable value for money purchase was buying 10lbs of Quaker oats for about $2.50 on special. Took me a few seasons to finish. Probably won't do it again as not such a big saving.

    • They also once had a special on the Iphone 12 mini. JB priced matched but had to add back the membership. Still saved about $50 though.

  • +7

    30+ mins to get there (more for me), when Coles/Woolies is <5 mins.
    Prices similar to main supermarket, worsened by $5/month membership.
    Have to buy bulk in a lot of cases. Means you need a freezer the size of most people’s fridge freezer. And large storage area.
    Some unique product lines that make it interesting, but mostly stuff you can buy elsewhere.
    Clothes cheap, booze cheap, but I usually just wait for OzB deals for these.
    So, all in, yeah, it’s overrated
    Membership lapsed. Won’t renew

    • +1

      Yeah there were some stuff I wanted but just literally didn't have space for because of two other things I bought prior that were just massive.

      I mean the membership isn't that expensive. I just thought it wasn't worth the hype.

      • +1

        You can get a refund of membership (cnt remember if in full or pro rated) upon request

  • +8

    They have fuel which is decent price usually and they also have rotating specials on big items like pressure hoses and cooking appliances.

    For me, Costco has variation to Coles/Woolworths and whilst it isn't always cheaper the quality is good.
    If you're don't have a large family or don't entertain people often then it can seem like the value isn't there but they are happy to refund your membership if you aren't satisfied

    • +4

      Fuel was $1.89. Lower than average but I filled up that exact amount on my way back at united. BP next door to the united was $1.91. Even though Costco was cheap, I didn't bother, the que was massive.

      No, I can see value overall, you're right though, it is just not for me. I guess with only having 3-4 warehouse locations, having to buy a membership, buying in sizes 2-3x times what you would otherwise, I expected more of a saving, even when buying in bulk.

      • +4

        if it wasn't for Costco then those stations would be more expensive - supporting Costco helps to reduce fuel prices for all

        • +8

          I don't know if 3-4 Costco fuel stations really make a difference especially when I live half an hour away.

        • That's not a bad idea. Costco could just have a memberships to have cheap fuel stations everywhere.

  • Diesel in Australia is $3.00.

    May be check back when it's $1.50.

    • Would Coles/woolies face the same issue? If not worse since they have more centres.

  • +3

    Definitely cheaper if you buy in bulk, have a large family and can finish everything without having to wait for sales

    isnt that (and business purchases) their entire market?
    they arent aiming to be a coles/woolworths

    Only recently opened in my area, but I get value from it purely from meat prices for low and slow cuts, a couple of cooks and I've paid for the yearly membership in $ saved anyway.

    • +2

      Yes but I find the savings quite abysmal if any for a lot of products for the hype. I meant if you're going through it all quickly then maybe the couple of dollars for each product adds up. Otherwise, hardly worth it. I looked at meat prices, nothing cheaper than local butchers for me.

      • +1

        Price for meat here may not be a huge difference, but quality is better for the same $ at Costco.
        (Eg for me, for things like pork collar/butt it's easily $3-6/kg cheaper than local butchers..for a 4-6kg buy thats half a yearly membership in one go, plus much better selection)

        • Thanks, I bought some wagyu beef steaks for ~$80 a kg, I'll see how it goes!

  • +4

    I wouldn’t do a regular weekly shop there, but I like Costco for the US (Kirkland brand) products that are not available anywhere else, the massive birthday cakes and the cheap roast chooks. I’ve also ordered a few of their catering trays for office events, which have been much cheaper than getting them catered and have won brownie points with the colleagues.
    We have 3 adults on one membership so that brings the cost down enough that we cover the savings in one visit, so it’s worth it for us.

    • +3

      Roast chooks from there are the worst I've had by far. Yeah, the $30 birthday cakes were huge!

      • +4

        Yeah, weird taste. I believe they soak it in brine….they looked good, but we’re pink, absolutely disgusting.

  • +5

    I joined for the cheap fuel

  • +12

    OP…. Looking at your replies you whinge a lot and can't find anything nice about it…… So why didn't you just get a refund of your membership on the way out and be done with it?

    • +21

      Just trying to generate discussion and see what I missed before I refund it. If you don't want to participate, ignore the post and be done with it?

      • +3

        If you don't want to participate

        Reading your replies, what's the real point? Everything someone likes about Costco, you come back and complain about.

        I don't disagree with some of your points. I never buy fruit/veg from costco, its too costly and too big and yes lots of things can be had cheaper elsewhere. But the meat, while not cheaper to some places, is very good quality (and thus cheaper when comparing to equal quality meat). Costco also has lots of food you can't get at other places etc.

        Sure Costco isn't for everyone, so if it isn't for you, then get a refund and move on.

        • +10

          But the meat, while not cheaper to some places, is very good quality (and thus cheaper when comparing to equal quality meat).

          See I didn't know this and I never disagreed since I never had it. I'm keen to give it another go and compare it to my local butchers.

          Sure Costco isn't for everyone, so if it isn't for you, then get a refund and move on.

          I went there once, was underwhelmed and just wanted to know what it is I missed before I do. If it's just better quality meats and cheaper fuel (which is too far for me anyways) then yes, I'll move on.

          Costco also has lots of food you can't get at other places etc.

          Agreed, I mentioned this in my post, it's just hard to try new things when you need to buy 1kg+ of everything so I thought maybe they'd be some standout items that are only available at Costco and keep people going, apart from $1.99 hotdog and drink, there hasn't been many recommendations. Otherwise if it's just savings alone, for me I didn't see it.

          • +1

            @DisabledUser262693: "thought maybe they'd be some standout items that are only available at Costco"…

            People have recommended many things; meat (cheaper than colesworth and better imo), maple syrup, baby wipes, dishwasher tablets, also I'd chime in with fruit, cheese (both quality and the fact that you can't get some of it elsewhere)/yoghurt, pizzas (take and bake or from cafeteria as they are the same), muffins (sometimes $7 for 12), garage equipment and rotating clothes/homewares/toys/shoes in the central area. Edit: Oh and petrol

            Yes I feel the same about having to outlay a lot to try these bulk items but they have tasters on nearly every isle at busy times of the week.

      • -6

        Keep it for 11 months then cancel and get refund. Wait a couple of months then subscribe again. Did this for a couple of times and got away with it.

  • +2

    We are fortunate that Costco is only 5 minutes from my house.
    It is worth it for the cheap petrol alone. But definitely buying in bulk, and the occasional special item from time to time.

  • +6

    Petrol's approx $2 for 98 at Casula whereas it's approx $2.40 nearby. Say 30c a litre and a 50 litre tank is $15 difference there. For those that need to fill up frequently, there's a lot of savings to be had there. It's not always such a vast difference, but it's usually a noticeable difference.

    The bulk is great for larger families without needing to wait for the specific discounts at ColesWorth. We buy and split with my parents and siblings. Costco's brand toilet is great for nights after dodgy thai or curries.

    The Costco butcher meat is arguably much better than anything you'd find at ColesWorth. Maybe if you have a decent local butcher, you'll find competition there. Reverse sear a Costco tomahawk for $80 a pair and you'll never order steak from a restaurant again.

    Costco's not for everyone but for many it's quite good. Different strokes for different folks.

    • -1

      Apart from chicken and kangaroo, I almost never buy meat from colesworth. I did buy some beef mince, sausages and wagyu steak today though, I'll see how it goes!

      Petrol's approx $2 for 98 at Casula whereas it's approx $2.40 nearby.

      It was $1.89 for 91 when I went today, the line was huge so I went to united near my house and filled up at the exact same price.

      The bulk is great for larger families without needing to wait for the specific discounts at ColesWorth.

      Yeah that's true, but some of the stuff was more expensive than when they have specials so I guess it evens out.

      • If you want to take your chances can get good meat deals Sunday closing. I have picked up fantastic waygu and tomahawk steaks for very little. Useby being the next day.

        My costco is 2km away so I treat it like the local shops though

      • +1

        It was $1.89 for 91 when I went today, the line was huge so I went to united near my house and filled up at the exact same price.

        How often does that servo have the same price as Costco? You said you're 30 mins from Costco - I rarely see petrol that far away as competitive as Costco. One thing Costco gives you is a reliability that it's cheaper than elsewhere for fuel (98 at least, I haven't looked at diesel or their 94).

        Yeah that's true, but some of the stuff was more expensive than when they have specials so I guess it evens out.

        It's the consistency I guess in this regards - you either wait for a ColesWorth sale for the stuff you want or you just go and buy at Costco. There's a lot of stuff that I've not seen at ColesWorth though, so it all depends on what you're after and your usage. We've been introduced to a lot of great food I'd likely never see elsewhere too

  • +2

    Nope , nothing beats their fat a$$ roast chicken and cheap hot dog deal .
    You have to stick to specials besides that .

    • What's the best way to find out about their specials?

      I've had their roast chicken once…never again.

      • +1

        I've had their roast chicken once…never again.

        You said this was your first visit?

        • +2

          I had family members that used to bring them all the time (although I never ate them after the one time) while raving it about it for the past few years, along with coworkers, I finally just decided to go.

      • -1

        I've had their roast chicken once…never again.

        How long ago? As the chickens use to be yuk, but they changed a year or two ago and they are much better now days!

        • +2

          Definitely a couple of years. I remember eating it and going 'this is chicken? It taste like gelatin', there was this weird layer of fat/gelatin or something inbetween the skin and the meat, something I've never experience before. Thanks for the heads up, I'll give it ago next time.

      • You can sign up on their website to get emailed their specials. Also set an ozbargain store alert.

  • +3

    Costco is ok. I like going to browse but I feel like people just overindulge whenever they go and end up throwing most of the stuff they buy into the bin.

  • It's alright I'm def not their target market but their kirkland brand stuff is pretty good quality.
    Their golf gear is cheap and really good: gloves, balls mostly.

  • I buy mainly my favorite American brand of goods

    • +2

      Such as?

        • +3

          Thanks for being so helpful.

  • +2

    Holding on to membership solely for items that cant be found easily elsewhere. Things like Mariani beef jerky, Topical Fields Coconut Egg Roll, Sea Temple Dried Scallop Snacks, and a number of American items.

    • Thanks for a heads-up, I'll keep it and give them a go :)

  • +2

    I'm been a Costco buyer for a long time. Our local version doesn't hold a candle to the kind of deals I experienced in the 90s in the US. Many things can be had for the same price in our local Colesworth, especially when it's on special. And yep, the need to buy in bulk is kinda lame.

    So here, I use costco, mainly for fuel and specialty products that I can't get anywhere else. (The fambam is a huge fan of the bread rolls) Anything else, I have to run numbers in my head and check the locals. Shame of it is, sometimes, the products they have are not like-for-like so sometimes there's more number crunching to be done. So yeah, my costco shopping here is much much more niche compared to back in the US. Far more effort, but still, some bargains to be had.

    Lastly, when I don't have my MIL with us, our shopping at Costco is less than 2/3rds of a trolley and we don't spend hundreds and hundreds of $$

    • -4

      Our local version doesn't hold a candle to the kind of deals I experienced in the 90s in the US.

      Things in this country are more expensive than things were in another country with a much lower minimum wage, thirty years ago? Do tell.

      • +2

        I was less comparing the value of Costco US to Costco AU directly, and more of its value offerings to its local competitors at the time. It was more of the degree of savings I could get shopping at Costco US vs Vons, etc, compared to the savings I can get shopping at Costco AU vs colesworth here and now.

  • +14

    We are a household of two, we buy the organic premium beef mince, steaks and chicken breasts (lilydale chicken) from Costco and just freeze them in ziploc bags. Saves us a lot compared to Colesworth. Other things we get are bottled water, chicken/beef stock, beer cases, wine, dish washing tablets, washing powder and milk. Can't recommend the milk enough, haven't had a bad batch yet compared to many sold in normal supermarkets. We just hate the grassy tasting milk that occurs every few months from many brands in Colesworth, so Costco is a huge saver for that.

    For other things, usually cheaper elsewhere (e.g. sparkling water is cheaper at Dan Murphy's and most of the produce is cheaper at the local markets).

    We buy a few Kirkland stuff such as Prosecco (comes from a small reputable winery in Italy), dog food (rebranded Taste of the Wild kibble which is highly highly rated!) and coffee beans (the house blend is by Starbucks, but I recommend the Colombian blend which is by Onyx I believe?). Bonus: the batteries are rebranded Duracell!

    It's more of a be smart about what you buy, don't have the expectation that Costco will replace your shops at Colesworth. Your (smart) shops at Costco will bring your Colesworth weekly spend down a lot! We are particularly noticing it now with inflation hitting everyday items. If you can do the math and consider the $55-60 a year, you could save a decent chunk of money :)

    • +1

      Thanks for this, I'll try the milk next time and the dog food might be good!

    • The coffee bean by Starbucks is atrocious though! Buyer beware!

      • Agreed, acceptable in a filter coffee but horrible as espresso.

    • +2

      Grassy tasting milk? This is a thing? I've never experienced this or realised this. Then again, most of my coffee goes into coffees.

      • "Then again, most of my coffee goes into coffees." Makes sense! Fair enough….. :P

  • +1

    A single transaction often is enough to save the annual membership worth. Depends how you shop at Costco, and what you buy. Also not everything there is always cheaper but is sure of good quality.

  • +1

    Back when we used to go in to the office, it was great to pickup snacks and the sheet cakes from Costco to fuel office parties. Buffalo wings were popular too. Can't say if we did save much, but it was convenient and gave us an excuse to duck out.

    Love the fish skin snacks from there! At one point, it was easier to score the snack there than to look around for that Singaporean brand.

  • The free samples in those cupcake wrappers.

    'nuff said

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