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Oct 11

Bulk Buying – is it worth it?

Reading Time: 5 mins

Have you come across the cash ‘n’ carry or bulk buying aisle in your local supermarket yet? I remember the first time I stumbled across one. I stood there starring at a 10kg bag of rice and thought who on earth needs one of those? Turns out, I do. Not need exactly, but would use – and save money in the process.

You might also have walked past a Costco warehouse. There are only 29 in the UK currently but they are another of those slightly mystical places where someone you know sneaks off to and bags some incredible deals. (You can usually spot these friends, they are the ones with giant boxes of tea bags under the stairs or a humungous bottle of shampoo next to the shower.)

If you’ve never ventured into the bulk buying aisle or been into a Costco, it can be hard to work out whether it’s worth it. That’s where we come in. In this article you’ll find everything you need to know about bulk buying, how to join Costco and how to get the best deals – either on your own or as part of a shopping collective. We’ve also included some top tips and a few warnings on how not to get carried away…

For the purposes of this article we’re using Costco Online. It’s cheaper to join, there are no restrictions and it means we can give you real price comparisons. If you have a Costco warehouse near you – and you meet the membership criteria – you might save a little more as the online prices include shipping and handling. 

Bulk Buying – what can you save?

You don’t have to be a Costco member to find savings buying in bulk. Lots of supermarkets now have an aisle where you can buy your everyday items – just in bigger boxes or packets and usually in multipacks. They also sell many of these items online which would save you having to lug them home yourself.

Tesco has a Bulk Buy page on their website where you can get:

ITEM
BULK BUY £
NON BULK BUY £
DIFFERENCE
24 x Cushelle Quilted
Toilet Tissue
£13.25 = 55p each 67p each 12p per item
24 x 7up Free cans

 

£7.50 = 31p each 37.5p each 6.5p per item
8 x 145g Tuna chunks
in Spring water
£6.30 = 79p each 94p each 15p per item

 

Asda has a number of larger stores that have a Deal Depot where you can bulk buy. They don’t offer these goods online yet but if you are close to a superstore it’s definitely worth having a look. (But first do check out our top tips below.) Morrisons also launched a bulk buy aisle a few years ago, where you can get larger or multi-packs of everyday staples such as tea, coffee and biscuits and some household cleaning products.

COSTcO

Food

In order to join Costco and be able to physically go to one of their warehouses, you need to meet their membership criteria and also pay the fee of £33.60. You can find out more about this type of membership here.

For the purposes of this article, we’re just looking at the online membership. This doesn’t have any restrictions – which means anyone can join – and only costs £15 a year.

At the time of writing, these are the sorts of savings that are available:

ITEM at COSTCO ONLINE
BULK BUY £
NON BULK BUY £
DIFFERENCE
4 Boxes of PG Tips Pyramid Teabags

 

£11.79 = £2.94 per box Tesco sell same box for £3.95 Save £1.01 per box
6 packets of Garofola Pasta (500g)

 

£9.39 = £1.57 per packet Ocado sells the same brand for £2.60 Save £1.03 per packet
6 x 900ml Fairy Washing up Liquid

 

£9.79 = £1.64 each Sainsbury’s sell the same for £2 each Save 36p per bottle
6 x Nescafe Azera Americano Instant Coffee (90g) £18.39 = £3.09 each Tesco sell same size for £5.49 each Save £2.40 per tin
 12 x Valfrutta Chopped Tomatoes (400g) £6.99 = 58p per tin Amazon sell the same for £9.94 = 83p per tin Save 25p per tin

 

On average, you can expect to save anywhere from 20-30% on your shopping, sometimes more, bulk buying from Costco, but there are things you need to bear in mind before paying your membership fee.

TOP TIPS

Strained finances benefit from budgeting

You might have noticed that the price comparison for Costco items lists multiple items. This is is one of the things you really need to be aware of, not just with Costco but with all bulk buying. You are buying in bulk. Costco will only sell most items as part of a multipack, so you can’t just pick up one of something. There are other things you need to keep in mind too. Here are our top tips and things to be aware of:

  1. Where are you going to put these oversized/multi-buy items? Think about storage. You don’t want to be tripping over big bags of pasta and 24 tins of tomatoes for the next six months. Have you got room for these items? What about your fridge? Is it big enough for giant jars and oversized tubs of butter?
  2. Cost. Just because there is an overall saving over the longer term, it doesn’t mean you can afford it in the first place. Buying in bulk means finding the money to pay for more of something all at once. It’s not like sale shopping, you are spending more now to save money over a longer period of time. Can you afford it?
  3. If you don’t’ think you can afford a big one off shop, how about setting up a mini shopping cooperative with family, friends or neighbours? You can split the cost – and the storage – and all benefit from the savings on offer.
  4. Think about what you are going to buy and what you are realistically going to use. Bulk buying is really good for tinned goods, for example, or non-perishables. It doesn’t work for fruit and veg or meat. (You can freeze the meat, again if you’ve got the space.)
  5. Check the best before and use by dates too. Bulky goods won’t necessarily last for longer – will you be able to use it before it goes off?
  6. Don’t be tempted to buy things you wouldn’t normally use just because they seem cheap or cheaper than usual. If you get home and realise that no one likes tinned fruit, it won’t get eaten and you will have wasted money.

WHAT TO BUY

value brands

The best things to bulk buy are the groceries or household items that you can store and that won’t go off, for example:

  • Canned Goods
  • Coffee and Tea
  • Pasta and Rice
  • Toilet Paper
  • Sweets
  • Laundry Powder
  • Shampoo

Finally, bulk buying can really save you money, but only if you have the money up front and the space to put away what you’ve bought. When shopping and wondering whether or not to buy in bulk,  just remember: can you afford it, store it and use it in time? 

If you have never bought in bulk before and are giving it a go, let us know how you get on in the comments below. Also please get in touch if you already do this and let us have your top own tips we should add to our list!

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Joanne
Joanne
1 month ago

I wish I had a supermarket near my that did bulk buys.

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