Loaded Trolley’s Massive Costco Australia Comparison – Week 1

Loaded Trolley’s Massive Costco Australia Comparison – Week 1

In 2013 we saw many comments about Costco’s prices in comparison to the big two supermarkets in Australia, Coles and Woolworths. Some of the most interesting comments come from places like the forums at OzBargain and Whirlpool as well as feedback directly to Loaded Trolley. Even A Current Affair did a fairly poor job of doing real comparisons of the supermarkets against Costco. We usually hear that ‘you need to know your prices’ or ‘Costco is the same price as when the supermarkets are on sale, so just buy in bulk when the supermarkets on sale and save the membership fee’.

As a result we have decided to do a mega-comparison of Costco Australia to Coles and Woolworths and really find out if your $60 per year membership yields any benefits for the regular groceries you may buy. In our last shop at Costco in Ringwood we selected 96 lines that Costco typically carry in their Australian warehouse stores. In this massive ‘basket of goods’ (probably more like two giant Costco Trolleys than a basket) we have 12 lines from the fruit and vegetable section, 12 lines from meat, fish and poultry, 64 lines of other groceries and 8 lines from the liquor department.

We are intending on doing this weekly for 12 weeks to test the hypothesis that ‘You should buy sales items in bulk from Coles and Woolworths as they will be about the same price as Costco’. At this stage we don’t want to divulge the exact lines we have selected from Costco as we don’t want any potential for manipulation of the results by the retailers, although we doubt any of them read this website. At the end of the 12 weeks, if we can find an appropriate way to do it, we will share the complete spreadsheet that will carry all of the comparison data so our readers can make up their own minds. And believe me it’s a mountain of data being generated.

We will do our best to make the comparison fair as we always do with a typical ‘Basket of Goods’ comparison here on Loaded Trolley. The intent is that where Costco has a name brand product on the list a direct comparison of the best price the supermarkets offer for that product will be used. If a line item from Costco is considered a generic brand then we will use the equivalent generic. We don’t typically consider Homebrand to be equivalent in quality to the generics Costco carry but Woolworths Select and Coles’ house label typically are. Pricing from Costco comes from in-store whereas we will have to use the online price from Coles and Woolworths in the interest of saving time (the first week of data gathering and analysis has cost over 8 hours so going in store for all data is not viable). We will also be using First Choice Liquor and Dan Murphy’s for comparisons of liquor.

So with that some numbers from Week 1 of the comparison (1st January to 7th January 2014).

Fruit and vegetable

Compared to Coles

  • Coles is 15% more expensive than Costco on average.
  • Coles has better prices on 6 of the 12 lines compared. None were noted as sale items.

Compared to Woolworths

  • Woolworths is 14% more expensive than Costco on average.
  • Woolworths has better prices on 3 of the 12 lines compared. None were noted as sale items.

Meat, Poultry and Seafood

Compared to Coles

  • Coles is 28% more expensive than Costco on average.
  • Coles did not have better prices on any of the 12 lines compared.

Compared to Woolworths

  • Woolworths is 25% more expensive than Costco on average.
  • Woolworths has better prices on 2 of the 12 lines compared. Both were sale items.

Other Grocery

Compared to Coles

  • Coles is 40% more expensive than Costco on average.
  • Coles has better prices on 5 of the 64 lines compared. Of those 3 were on special.
  • Coles had 9 lines on special that were more expensive than Costco.

Compared to Woolworths

  • Woolworths is 31% more expensive than Costco on average.
  • Woolworths has better prices on 2 of the 64 lines compared. Of those 1 was on special.
  • Coles had 13 lines on special that were more expensive than Costco.

Liquor

Compared to First Choice Liquor (only 6 lines compared due to data availability)

  • First Choice is 14% more expensive than Costco on average.
  • First Choice did not have better prices on any of the 6 lines compared.

Compared to Dan Murphy’s

  • Dan Murphy’s is 9% more expensive than Costco on average.
  • Dan Murphy’s did not have better prices on any of the 8 lines compared.

Don’t forget we will be looking at these comparisons weekly so stay tuned for more next week.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Nice work. People may question the fact that you are using online prices for Coles and Woolies, although understandably going into the store would take quite a bit of time.

    Do you know if Coles/Woolies online prices are similar to their in store prices?

    • From past comparisons the website and in store are typically the same in most cases but sometimes there seems like there are local specials to compete with their local competition. Dan Murphy’s sometimes does this also where they will drop the shelf price based on their competitors. I will try and spot check some prices in store when I have time.

  2. of course Costco is cheaper than Coles and Woolies, there is no doubt, but actually the big differentiator is QUALITY.

    you cant simply compare the price of fresh salmon at Coles vs Costco because Costco salmon is infinitely better quality than Coles. if you hold Costco salmon up to your nose it doesn’t smell like fish at all – try to do the same for Coles salmon! same goes for many of their other products such as their banana prawns and scallops. i’m surprised no one has mentioned this important fact before which is the main reason i shop there.

Leave a Reply