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How much warehouse stores can save you

How much warehouse stores can save you

Last reviewed: October 2009

To find the best deals on a list of holiday party supplies, we sent 28 mystery shoppers to Costco, Sam's Club, Target, Walmart, and local grocery stores to compare prices. They hit more than 130 stores in 15 states. The results: Warehouse clubs had the best deals by far almost every time (the one category in which the clubs didn't shine was drinks), and there wasn't much difference between Costco and Sam's Club. Target and Walmart can also save you big money over local grocery stores, but not as much. Warehouse stores can easily score you bargains of 40 or 50 percent, but Target and Walmart often cut prices by 20 to 30 percent in our price scan. The lowest prices in each category are in bold type.

Serving

  Costco Sam's Club Target Walmart Grocery stores Club Savings*
Vanity Fair Everyday napkins (2 ply) 1 cent per napkin 1 cent 2 cents 2 cents 2 cents 45%
Chinet dinner plates (classic white) 9 cents per plate 9 cents 13 cents 14 cents 16 cents 43

Snacks

  Costco Sam's Club Target Walmart Grocery stores Club Savings*
Tyson chicken wings 11 cents per oz. 11 cents 19 cents 17 cents 26 cents 57%
Planters Dry Roasted Peanuts 11 cents per oz. 11 cents 18 cents 14 cents 22 cents 53
Hidden Valley Ranch dressing 11 cents per oz. 11 cents 17 cents 13 cents 18 cents 40
Ritz Crackers (Regular) 13 cents per oz. 12 cents 17 cents 16 cents 20 cents 37

Baking

  Costco Sam's Club Target Walmart Grocery stores Club Savings*
Nestlé Toll House Semi-Sweet chocolate chips 11 cents per oz. 12 cents 21 cents 21 cents 23 cents 52%
Domino sugar 3 cents per oz. 3 cents NA 4 cents 4 cents 26

Drinks

  Costco Sam's Club Target Walmart Grocery stores Club Savings*
Corona beer (bottles) 99 cents per bottle 96 cents $1.27 98 cents $1.14 25%
Coca-Cola (cans) 29 cents per can 27 cents 36 cents 26 cents 33 cents -
Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail 4 cents per fl. oz. 4 cents 4 cents 4 cents 5 cents -

Cleanup

  Costco Sam's Club Target Walmart Grocery stores Club Savings*
Reynolds Wrap Heavy Strength 4 cents per sq. ft. 4 cents 6 cents 7 cents 8 cents 50%
Dawn Ultra 9 cents per fl. oz. 8 cents 10 cents 10 cents 12 cents 29
Cascade Action-Pacs with Dawn 18 cents per pac 17 cents 20 cents 20 cents 22 cents 21

After the party

  Costco Sam's Club Target Walmart Grocery stores Club Savings*
Advil Liqui-Gels (capsules) 7 cents per capsule 7 cents 8 cents 9 cents 13 cents 47%
Alka-Seltzer 9 cents per dose 8 cents 11 cents 11 cents 14 cents 43
*Savings on lowest price compared with highest price.

This article appeared in Consumer Reports Shopsmart Magazine.

Posted: October 2009—Consumer Reports Shopsmart Magazine issue: November 2009