Is Auckland Costco cheaper than other Supermarkets?

It has been 6 weeks now since Costco opened here in New Zealand and yes, we are not those typical ones who have FOMO, we waited for a month for the hype to die down before visiting this place. I hate queuing and that is one of the reasons we did not rush, that for me is an added cost, time is also money, you may be saving $30 worth of grocery but you can never get back that 1 hour of queue into your life, you can definitely do much better things in a hour than queuing. Having said that when we visited here several weeks ago the queues are still very much alive but not as long and as slow compared to the ones I heard, the time it took me from parking, to getting my membership card done to doing my grocery shopping was less than 15 minutes. Was it luck? Well, we just came in a really low peak time I suppose, it was Wednesday at 6:15 PM.

It is an impressive store if you are talking about New Zealand standards. What I mean by that is it is impressive in terms of size, it is definitely if one of the biggest supermarkets here, if not the biggest. My intention on this visit is to compare whether are we really saving enough when buying the usual grocery items in Costco, TLDR; it depends. I won’t be mentioning prices in detail as I notice they change regularly so it will be irrelevant.

Costco is very heavy on American products, meaning a lot of sugary, salty and heavily processed food that is not common in New Zealand supermarket, to make things worse they are sold in bulk quantities, so if your household is small probably 3 people then this is not your best option, so if you just crave for American products, you will be better off with Martha’s Backyard or just get them online at International Foods but if your household count is 5 and up then it can be a good value proposition to you.

Now it is also worth mentioning that Costco does not only sell processed foods there are also a lot fresh produce, fresh meat and seafood on sale and this is where I am excited at becuase there are some cuts that is hard to get in New Zealand like Wagyu (not the high grade ones), variety of crab types and even bulk lobsters, not all of them are sold on heavy bulk weights. There are also bulk vegetables, some are OK like the asparagus and potatoes but not the leafy ones as their shelf life are short. There are also seeds, nuts, herbs, and spices which you can get more value of rather than the tiny expensive packets you get from Countdown or Pak n Save. It not just grocery items they are selling, they also sell small appliances and electronics, they also have apparel, toys, tires, hearing aids, eyeglasses and even caskets.

Personally, I found some items to be cheaper but not a lot, like I said you will need to weigh your priorities in life, whether a $2.00 cheaper item is worth your hassle going here and queuing to get inside and another long queue to pay for your item. You will also need to ask yourself whether you can finish your purchase before it expires, because the way it works here is like getting a cheaper grocery item but you get them in larger packs like 5KG onions, 5KG leg roasts, 42 pack macarons, 1KG butter, nearly 2 litres of mayo or even 6 pack of enormous muffins. So, you might get things cheaper but, in the end, they are actually expensive as they will just spoil on your pantry or worse give your health problems (eating it too much). Now speaking of eating too much, food items here will give you another problem becuase you don’t want things to get spoiled, the next best thing to do is to eat them all (if you don’t share of course), I bet you in a years’ time there may be an increase of obese Aucklanders becuase of this, temptation will always be there, like us we tried to get the 12 pack Portuguese egg tarts, and since there’s only three of us we had eaten it every day for 4 days, luckily they are not 24 pack.

Another thing to keep in mind is where to store such bulk items you purchase, you will need large pantries or freed up garage just to keep them, it is a challenge for people living in small houses, unlike in America everything is huge.

Certainly, there are a lot of great buys but not all, I still find some items cheaper in Pak and Save. If you have a large party happening soon, you have a big family or own a food related business definitely Costco is a real value but if you are alone, I am sure it would be better to shop somewhere else. Costco definitely has a lot nice to have items, but do you really want and need them?


5 Responses

  1. I am not a fan oc Costco – though, through the generosity of my neighbor, I can go on her membership. And I do go. My allergy medicine is 1/6 the price in their pharmacy! But other things? I might buy frozen shrimp there or frozen lobster – or a small crate of chanterelle mushrooms. Their salmon (if you need 4 pounds) is good, too. But we are a household of 2 and, like you said, it isn’t worth it. I am the only person I know who doesn’t love it. Beyond all the pricing, and getting closer to your issue about the queues, I don’t like the atmosphere. For me, food shopping is a pleasurable thing — I like it, and want it to be attractive, nad have nice people. Trader Joe – not at all similar but also based on saving money – has the most wonderful and delightful staff. They get to know people by their names. It is fun to shop there. Costco – just gross IMHO. 🙂

  2. suituapui says:

    It wasn’t there when I went to Auckland many years ago but my friend went to one in the US…and you wouldn’t believe what she bought there!!! Musang King durians, after coming all the way from Malaysia. She said she could not help it – she was craving for it. LOL!!!

  3. Hannah says:

    Costco is SO popular here, I always wonder what I’m missing out on, and if I should join. It just doesn’t seem to make sense for the most part, aside from random lucky finds and sporadic deals. I love seeing more insights comparing it with other grocery options though!

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