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Costco Prices vs. Sam's Prices
Sam's vs. Costco Shopping Cart (continued)
The super-size packages of many items at wholesale clubs may deter some consumers, especially those with few family members or who lack lots of storage space. For example, at both stores apples come in bags of 40 -- can you eat or cook that many apples before they go bad? The same consideration holds for cheese -- why would a family of four want five pounds of cheese unless they're feeding some very hungry teenagers? Such large amounts are no doubt useful for parties, camps, daycare centers, group picnics, and big families. But our family of four found the Sam's and Costco memberships most valuable for stocking up on cleaning supplies, paper goods, condiments, baby supplies, and grocery items that won't spoil anytime soon.
Our shopping cart test didn't include any consumer durables, like kitchenware or electronics, but we did compare a few prices. A Canon Powershot SD4500 IS digital camera sells for $259.88 at Sam's Club and $269.99 at Costco, and a Cuisinart Single Serve Brewing System carries a $169.98 price tag at Sam's and a $174.99 tag at Costco. Sam's has the edge for these two items, but that's not always the case. The price of an Alera Strada High Back Chair, for example, is essentially equivalent -- $175.88 at Sam's and $175.99 at Costco.
Based on the few reviews we could find, it seems that many wholesale club members are satisfied shoppers, whether they're cruising the aisles of Sam's or Costco. In comments about Sam's Club on Viewpoints, consumers say they use Sam's Club primarily to stock up on everyday household and food supplies. Reviews note that the produce is always fresh and far more affordable than at the regular grocery store, and several rave about the bakery selections. Some gripes about Sam's concern the limited payment options and limited selection of organic and specialty items, such as gluten-free products. A few shoppers also grouse about poor customer service and long lines, a situation that's location specific. During our visit to Sam's Club on a Monday morning in June, there were many registers open and checkout was fast and efficient.
As for Costco, consumers' reviews on Viewpoints praise the retailer for superior customer service; several report that employees went above and beyond to help out. Costco shoppers really like the monthly coupons and say they provide even better savings. Still, grumbles about the superstore include reports of poor quality meat, expensive membership fees, and a perception that some stores are chaotic and messy and often short of popular items. On our visit that same Monday but in the afternoon, we found the store to be exceptionally clean and witnessed numerous workers straightening and restocking the shelves.
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