We’ve been having connectivity issues this week, so I’ll be back sometime this weekend with regular posts (I hope!).
In the meantime, I’ve been revisiting the issue of how prices at warehouse stores compare to other stores. (Mercedes of Common Sense with Money wrote a great post showing how buying in bulk is not cheaper last summer.) The specific stores I’ve been thinking about are Costco, Trader Joe’s and Ralphs.
I shop at Trader Joe’s and Ralphs weekly. And even after reading Mercedes’s post, I’ve maintained my Costco membership, after calculating that the membership is worth it for the savings on gas and birthday cakes alone. That’s right, I said birthday cakes. A half sheet cake at Costco is $16.99 – $2 more than a year ago, by the way. A half sheet cake at Ralphs is about $30, depending on the design. And gas is an average of 10 to 20 cents per gallon cheaper, which works out to a savings of $1 to $2 per week.
I go to Costco very infrequently, but I went recently and confirmed that sale prices at Ralphs and Pavilions are better than Costco’s every day prices. And Trader Joe’s low every day price is often better than Costco’s, but not for everything. Bananas are cheaper at Costco by about 10 cents per pound, organic ground beef is cheaper by 66 cents per pound, and organic low fat milk is cheaper by 6 cents per half gallon. It’s not much of a difference on a weekly basis, but I can freeze the meat and the milk is ultra pasteurized, so the expiration date is pretty far off. So I might make a run to Costco every two to three months to stock up on those items.