In an effort to take advantage of our 2% cash back perk of our executive membership, I’ve been trying to get in the habit of making bulk buying run to Costco once a month. By purchasing products that we always need and use in bulk once a month I figured I’d save time and money. One thing consumers have to be very careful about is whether what we’re buying is actually cheaper at a club store. The perception many consumers have is that if you buy gigantic packages at a club store, it MUST be a good deal. But I wasn’t so sure that was always true.
One item in particular that I questioned recently is paper towels.
I’m not afraid to profess my love for paper towels. I use them in countless situations including:
- Soaking up excess bacon grease from my favorite breakfast meat
- Drying off dishes after remembering that even after 23 minutes of scrubbing and rinsing the frying pan used to make taco meat I STILL stained my kitchen towel orange from left over taco seasoning. The struggle is real.
- Cleaning up cat hurl that I may or may not have stepped in at 5am while walking down the hallway.
- Spot cleaning the kitchen floor because according to my wife if I use a dish cloth, I need to throw it in the next load of laundry and get out a clean one.
- Used as a snack plate when I just started the dishwasher and don’t want to put a dirty plate into an empty sink.
I love my paper towels, but I don’t love them enough to overpay for them. I decided to do a cost comparison between a package of Bounty paper towels at Costco vs Walmart, where I do the bulk of my grocery shopping.
- Package of 12 Rolls (that are supposed to equal 23 “normal” rolls)
- Total of 806 square feet of product
- Regularly priced at $19.99
2.5 cents per square foot
- Package of 12 Rolls (that are supposed to equal 16 “normal” rolls)
- Total of 561 square feet of product
- Regularly priced at $12.97
2.3 cents per square foot
At regular price, the package at Walmart is actually a better buy. However, at the time I was comparing prices Costco was offering a $4 instant manufacturer’s rebate, bringing the price down to $15.99. That makes the Costco package a miserly 2 cents per square foot.
One may think this is the end of the story, but it’s not.
Bounty is not my favorite brand of paper towel. I prefer Walmart’s Great Value paper towel over Bounty, or any other brand of paper towel. I decided to see how my preferred brand stacked up against Bounty.
- Package of 4 rolls (that are supposed to be equal to 8 “normal” rolls)
- Total of 308 square feet of product
- Regular priced at $6.44
2.1 cents per square foot
The Walmart store brand paper towels are, in my opinion, softer and just as absorbent, but is cheaper than Bounty both at Walmart AND Costco baring a sale.
This comparison illustrates several important things when doing price comparisons:
- There are almost endless different product package comparisons that can be done. I tried to pick two Bounty packages that were similar in size, but there were many others to choose from. Pick the size of package you are most likely to buy.
- Make sure that you also include the product and size of package you already use. If it’s cheaper, OR if there isn’t a significant price difference it may not be worth switching to a new brand.
- Always use a standard of measurement that is consistent. In my comparison I used square feet of product as it was listed on each package. Using something like a “roll” isn’t a good idea because the definition of a roll can differ between manufacturers.
Products are not always cheaper just because they came from a club store in a ginormous package. Before switching your purchasing routine, do the work to find out which really is the best buy for your money. You just might be surprised.
Have you ever found that a product you purchase often is actually MORE expensive at a club store?