5 Struggles Every Costco Shopper Will Understand


There’s a reason 73 million people now have Costco memberships. Not only is the store known for its fantastic deals, but it also has a reputation for excellent customer service.

But that doesn’t mean you won’t encounter some challenges in the course of your Costco shopping. Here are some struggles you might fall victim to.

Costco shopping carts are larger than your traditional supermarket shopping cart so they can accommodate bulk purchases. But if you’ve ever had to navigate the store with a cart loaded with cleaning supplies, cases of water, and other such heavy items, you’ve probably risked a muscle pull at the very least.

The good news, though, is that you don’t have to unload heavy items from your cart at checkout. A helpful employee will scan them from your cart to at least spare you a bit of lifting.

2. The “hit you when you walk in” deals

You probably headed to Costco thinking you’d buy milk, eggs, and various grocery items for the week. Oh, but lo and behold — gardening tools are on sale! So are spring dresses! And throw blankets! And coolers!

The problem with shopping at Costco is that there’s lots of temptation in general. But the fact that Costco tends to place its new sale items at the front of the store doesn’t make things easier. You walk in and are often bombarded with deals. And it takes a lot of self control to just say no.

As such, you may want to make a point to shop at Costco with a list — and hold yourself accountable for it. Either that, or make a rule that you can only buy a single unplanned item per Costco visit to minimize the hit to your savings account.

3. The temptation that is the bakery

Some Costco locations have the bakery section right next to the produce area. Talk about a trap. You basically can’t help but get lured by muffins and cake on the way to buy broccoli and cucumbers.

If you’re going to make a pit stop in the bakery aisle, choose your purchases wisely. Costco’s jumbo muffins, for example, freeze really well, so you can load up, eat one or two, and store the rest for the future. You may not have the same luck with some of Costco’s frosted cakes, so you may only want to buy those if you have an actual event you need dessert for.

4. The frozen tundra that is the milk room

Wearing layers is advisable when shopping at Costco. Not only does the sheer size of the store make it drafty, but you may want to bring your heaviest coat for the sole purpose of fetching milk.

Costco’s milk room, so to speak, is downright frigid. But you actually do want to take your time in there because if you’re loading up on milk, it’s important to check expiration dates.

On the plus side, the fact that the milk area is kept so cold no doubt lends to Costco milk’s staying power. You’ll often find that the sell-by date on Costco milk is more generous than the sell-by date you’ll see at your local supermarket.

5. The membership dilemma

Costco offers two types of membership — basic (called Gold Star) and Executive. The basic membership costs $60 a year, while the Executive membership costs $120. With the latter, though, you get 2% cash back on your Costco purchases.

If you’re not sure which membership is right for you, you really only need to answer one question: Do I expect to spend more than $3,000 at Costco in the coming year?

The reason is that when you spend $3,000 exactly, 2% back equals $60 — the cost of your Executive membership upgrade. So if you spend even a dollar more than that, the upgrade makes sense, because you’re coming out ahead financially.

Your shopping experience at Costco may not be perfect. But let’s be real — all of the above struggles have solutions, whether it’s making a list, clearing out space in your freezer for uneaten muffins, or bringing an extra sweatshirt along. And that way, you can continue to enjoy the many benefits a Costco membership has to offer.

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