A Basket Of Goods From Costco Australia, Coles and Woolworths – Part...

A Basket Of Goods From Costco Australia, Coles and Woolworths – Part 1

Part 2 of this article can be found on this link.

One of the ideas I had in my head when Cindie and I bubbled up the Loaded Trolley concept was to compare a typical basket of goods when purchased at Costco compared to the big two Australian grocers, Coles and Woolworths. A few weeks ago, as a result of yet another enjoyable internerd argument on Whirlpool forums (I don’t know why I go there, I must be a sucker for punishment), I finally got my act together and acted on this.

In the forum thread dedicated to Costco, I called on Whirlpool forum users to give me a typical basket of goods that they would buy. The first basket I was given to cost contained the following items:

  • OMO Top Loader Washing Powder
  • Palmolive Dish Washing Liquid
  • Finish Dish Washer Tablets (Standard Powerball)
  • Carrots (assume fresh)
  • Green beans (assume fresh)
  • Pumpkin (assume fresh)
  • A2 Milk
  • Mainland Tasty Cheese Block
  • White Sliced Bread (Sunblest White selected)
  • Whole Lilydale Free Range Chicken
  • Beef Mince – lean
  • Oven Fries (Birdseye Golden Crunch selected)
  • D Batteries for a torch (Duracell selected)
  • Cheap Bourbon – Jack Daniels or Jim Beam

Now the first thing I should note is that I am working on the basis that Costco has a limited range of products and brands, so the following rules will be applied:

  1. Brands that Costco stock will have priority where a brand is not specified by the provider of the basket contents.
  2. If the brand at Costco is not what I would consider a ‘National brand’, that is one that sold at most mainstream retailers with that type of product, then it implies that it is a house brand or private label at Costco. These house brand products can be substituted for the equivalent private label product at Coles and Woolworths.
  3. If the National brand that Costco stocks is not available at either Coles or Woolworths I will make a selection for a suitable, similar substitute at those outlets.
  4. If the user specifies a brand that is not stocked by Costco, a suitable substitute will be used. If the user’s preferred brand is cheaper, by unit price, at the other retailers then that will be used for the comparison, otherwise the same brand will be used.

So armed with this list and these rules in my head, I headed to Costco to get prices for these products. First matter to note from the Costco expedition is that the Docklands store had no green beans, so that is struck from the comparison. As for the rest of the list, the Costco results were as follows:

  • OMO Top Loader Powder – $49.98 – 10kg
  • Palmolive Dish Washing Liquid – $12.49 – 2.66L
  • Finish Dish Wash Tablets – $34.98 – 112ct
  • Carrots – $3.99 – 3kg
  • Pumpkin (Butternut) – $3.99 – 1.5kg [Size estimated. Pumpkins at Costco were at least as big as Woolworths’ ones if not larger (and whole, not halves, at Costco), and definitely larger than Coles’ ones]
  • A2 Milk – $3.69 – 2L
  • Mainland Tasty Block – $19.39 – 2kg
  • White Sliced Bread (Sunblest White sliced selected) – $4.89 – 2 loaves
  • Whole Lilydale Free Range Chicken – $5.99 – per 1kg [ Note – 2 whole chickens per pack, approx. 1.6kg each or 3.2kg per pack]
  • Beef Mince – lean – $7.99 – per 1kg [note: typical pack 1.2kg]
  • Oven Fries – Birdseye Golden Crunch – $5.89 – 2kg
  • D Batteries – Duracell – $21.59 – 12 pack
  • Jack Daniels Old No .7 – $39.69 – 0.7L

So, the next day it was off to Coles and Woolworths, or Colsworth as I like to call them. Since Costco prices were checked on the Friday and Colsworth on the Saturday, I am comfortable that all the prices gathered were in the same discount cycle. Our local Colsworth stores also do not have a liquor department, so I used the local Dan Murphys price for both comparisons. I am comfortable with this as anecdotally Dan Murphys are typically cheaper than Colsworth for any given product on any given day.

The Coles prices were as follows:

  • OMO Top Loader Powder – $30 – 5kg
  • Palmolive Dish Washing Liquid – $2 – 0.4L [on special, best unit price at Coles on day]
  • Finish Dish Wash Tablets – $26.99 – 56ct
  • Carrots – $1.98 – per 1kg
  • Pumpkin (Butternut) – $2.48 – per 1kg [Coles half Butternut was around 400-500g]
  • A2 Milk – $4.99 – 2L
  • Coon Tasty Block – $9.90 – 1kg [No Mainland, used Coon]
  • White Sliced Bread (Sunblest White sliced selected) – $3.49 – 1 loaf
  • Whole Lilydale Free Range Chicken – $7.20 – per 1kg
  • Beef Mince – lean – $11 – 1kg [Min 1kg price, smaller portions were more expensive]
  • Oven Fries – Birdseye Golden Crunch – $3.90 – 1kg
  • D Batteries – Duracell – $11.99 – 4pack
  • Jack Daniels Old No .7 – $57.90 – 1L (based on Dan Murphys price)

The Woolworths prices were as follows:

  • OMO Top Loader Powder – $30 – 5kg
  • Palmolive Dish Washing Liquid – $3.99 – 0.75L
  • Finish Dish Wash Tablets – $20 – 56ct
  • Carrots – $1.98 – per 1kg
  • Pumpkin – $1.98 – per 1kg
  • A2 Milk – $4.99 – 2L
  • Mainland Tasty Block – $11.99 – 1kg [note that Coon was $9 for 0.9kg]
  • White Sliced Bread (Sunblest White sliced selected) – $5.50 – 2 loaves [on special]
  • Whole Free Range Chicken – $6.99 – 1kg [no Lilydale Free Range, use Woolworths Macro Foods free range]
  • Beef Mince – lean – $11.99 – 1kg [based on mince labelled as ‘premium’]
  • Oven Fries – Birdseye Golden Crunch – $3.49 – 0.75kg
  • D Batteries – $11 – 4pack [Energizer price used (on special), no Duracell at Woolworths]
  • Jack Daniels Old No .7 – $57.90 – 1L

As you can see, some of the units of measure do not align as Costco’s bulk buy theory means larger packs for many items. This means that to do a true comparison of the basket of goods, we need to consider the unit price, say the cost per litre or per kilogram. Now I don’t want to go into the mathematics, even though it is simple, so if you want to check my calculations here is a link to a Google spread sheet with my working, or you can download the Excel spread sheet that is attached.

From this the largest, typical retail pack size is used as the price in basket. As an example of what I mean by this we should consider a product such as the Palmolive dishwashing liquid. Costco sells this in 2.66L bottles. Colsworth have a few different sizes on their shelves and in this case, Coles best unit price is based on a 400ml bottle and Woolworths best unit price is based on a 750ml bottle. Coles also sells the 750ml bottle, so we will consider this pack the largest, typical retail pack.

Again, I am not going to go through the conversion from unit price to basket price. If you are interested in that, please check the links to one of the spread sheets mentioned above.

So now we are at the point you really read this for, the basket price from each retailer. Without any further ado here are the results (drumroll please);

  • Costco – $132.43
  • Coles – $161.78
  • Woolworths – $156.44

On this basket of goods, Costco is $29.35 cheaper than Coles (18% saving) and $24.01 cheaper than Woolworths (15% saving).

One other fact you should note is what your total spend at the Costco checkout is to get the cheaper price. The bill at Costco would have been $ 229.33 for the bulk purchases. Just some food for thought.


  • Prices are based on in store check at Costco on 1st February 2013 and Coles and Woolworths on 2nd February 2013


  1. It is slated for September Neale, but Coscto has not made any official announcement. They have a membership desk at Eastland. I keep meaning to pay it a visit to see if the staff there will divulge any more info on the opening date.

  2. Sent an enquiry regarding membership renewal at Ringwood instead of Docklands and got this in the reply:

    Ringwood warehouse is due to open in the last week of August, or beginning of September.

  3. Could someone please tell me if cost co sells the brand dolce gusto in coffee pods? And minature powerade a in packs?

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