Dos and don’ts of warehouse shopping

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While buying in bulk at warehouse clubs can net significant savings, these clubs do not offer the lowest pricing on all everyday items. With the holidays coming up, does the warehouse club provide the best value; or are you better off shopping elsewhere? Regina Novickis, savings expert for, shares tips on what to buy and what to skip at the warehouse store for the lowest price on these items.

Tips for shopping warehouse club:

  • Don't join before shopping with a trial run. Most warehouse clubs offer trial memberships, so be sure to enroll in this before committing to an annual membership. While it doesn't take many purchases to reap the savings benefits, you should make sure you will actually use your membership to avoid wasting $40 or more on fees.
  • Make a list and stick to it. Warehouse clubs have a knack for marketing specialty products. When purchasing food in bulk, be wary of trying new items unless you've had a sample. You could end up with a whole case of something you are sick of after a few servings.
  • Bring your smartphone shopping. Lured by a great appliance, electronic or other major purchase? Your smartphone can help you do a quick comparison search to make sure you're getting the best value. Inventory selection on these types of items may be limited at a warehouse store, and you could get a better deal by shopping sales and coupon codes. Look for savings on sites like and; or do a quick Google search for savings.

What to Buy/What to Skip:

Buy this:

  • Batteries - Buying batteries in bulk is a great way to save. Check expiration dates, but these should be several years out, so it makes sense to buy in bulk. All those holiday toys and gadgets need batteries, so it's always good to have extras in the house.
  • Party Food - Most food items sold in large quantities are not only a great deal, but will keep you stocked for large family or work gatherings. From frozen appetizers and finger foods to desserts and gift baskets, you'll save 30 percent over local supermarket deals. But don't buy more than you plan to use.
  • Christmas Trees - Warehouse stores really stock up with holiday merchandise, including Christmas trees. The price of a tree is generally a great bargain when compared with local Christmas tree shops; bear in mind, however, that negotiating opportunities will be thin at the warehouse stores. Compare prices in your area. Otherwise, check out the faux tree deals at the warehouse stores. They'll get you through several seasons, saving you more each year.

Skip this:

  • Soda - Grocery stores time the sales cycle for soda most closely to popular holidays and sports events, so stock up around these times. Typically during these sales cycles, you can expect to pay about 17 cents per can at the grocery store versus the normal low price at a warehouse club for 25 cents per can.
  • Toilet paper/other paper goods - Per sheet, toilet paper ends up being roughly the same price at the grocery store and warehouse club; however, with a sale or coupon you can easily cut costs. Papers towels cost 50 percent less at merchants such as Target or the grocery store when on sale.
  • Luggage - Costco and Sam's have high quality suitcases; however, you can generally find better savings by using an online promo code. Macy's, for example, has a two-piece Samsonite luggage set comparable to that at the warehouse club, for a lower price. Coupled with a promo code for 15-20% off, the savings is even greater.

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