Money Wise--Buying in Bulk, Part 2 - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/29/03

Money Wise--Buying in Bulk, Part 2

So many people buy in bulk because it saves money. In order make sure buying in such large quantities is worth it, you've got to stick to your budget, determine if you actually have room to store the stuff, and make sure you're not getting so much that it's going bad before you have a chance to eat it. Once you do that, the question is: are you really getting more for your money by shopping at warehouses?

The price per pound can be a lot cheaper. But shoppers have different opinions about whether that's true of all items..

"You don't always get a better deal in here, so you have to know your prices," said shopper Judy Hammond at the Sam's Club on Highway 17 in Savannah.

You do that by comparing the unit prices in the warehouse to the unit price at your regular grocery store. Is there truth to the myth that bulk is better? We did a little shopping of our own to find out. Our grocery list for Sam's Club is composed of five random items: soup, olive oil, peanut butter, cereal, and toilet paper.

First, let's check out some Campbell's tomato soup. At Sam's, it breaks down at 49 cents per can. At Wal-Mart Super Center, it's 54 cents. The better deal, for this item, is buying in bulk. Next, Bertolli olive oil. At Sam's, it's 8.19 cents per ounce. At Wal-Mart Super Center, it's 14.5 cents per ounce. The bargain here also lies in the bulk.

But what about peanut butter? A five-pound tub is 7.33 cents per ounce at Sam's. For a smaller portion at Wal-Mart, it's 8.8 cents per ounce. The Sam's price win's again. Next, we looked at Cheerios cereal; 15.91 cents per ounce at Sam's. At Wal-Mart, 17.4 cents per ounce. Sam's Club, again, is the better deal. And Northern toilet tissue, per roll at Sam's, it rounds out at 35 cents, and it's the same for Wal-Mart.

Which means, for our list, four of five items were in fact a better buy at the warehouse. Sam's merchandise manager Don Vaneck told us, "We're going to be the best price on the best quality items every day."

Just because most of the random items on our list were a better deal, doesn't mean you'll get bargains on everything at the big warehouses. The biggest pitfall consumers run into when bulk shopping is all in your mind. Things look more attractive because they're in such large portions. So, stick to your budget, consider your storage space, think about if you'll have time to consume the bigger portion before it goes bad, and know your prices. That's how you can definitely get more for your money.

If you have money questions you'd like answered in Money Wise, email moneywise@wtoc.com.

Reported by: Dmitra Denmark, ddenmark@wtoc.com

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