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A Basket Of Goods From Costco Australia, Coles and Woolworths – Part 2

Part 1 of this article can be found on this link.

In part 2 of the ‘Basket of Goods’ comparison of Costco Australia to Coles and Woolworths I was provided a group of items by user ‘THM’ on Whirlpool Forums. Their shopping list included;

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • 500g packet of Spaghetti
  • Four and Twenty Meat Pies
  • Loose salad mix
  • Colgate Total Toothpaste
  • 18 pack of Coke
  • A pack/block of brie cheese
  • A block of chocolate
  • A 3kg bag of potatoes
  • Frozen vegetables
  • A tin of tuna

So using the same rules as part 1 of this article, I set off to Costco to gather the first part of the data. Here is what I found at Costco;

  • Bananas (La Manna brand) – $4.49 – 1.4kg
  • Apples Pink Lady – $9.29 – 2.5kg
  • Spaghetti (Garafallo brand) – $9.39 – 4kg
  • Four and Twenty Meat Pies – Chunky Beef  – $7.99 – 8 pack
  • Loose Mesculin Mix Salad bag – $4.89 – 0.35kg
  • Colgate Total + Whitening 4 x 190g – $19.99 – 760g
  • Coke 375ml can slab – $11.99 – 20 cans
  • Bag of washed potatoes – $5.99 – 5kg
  • Frozen Vegetable (Birds Eye Stir Fry) – $6.99 – 1.5kg
  • Tinned Tuna (Greenseas in Spring water 4 x 425g) – $13.79 – 1.7kg

The items that were missed from finding their way into the virtual basket were a pack or block of brie and a block of chocolate. I left the brie off as Costco are between Australian suppliers due to a major recall by Jindi. They do have a French brie but there was no product close enoguh for comparison at Coles or Woolworths. As for the block of chocolate, I am not sure what Costco are doing in that respect. They used to stock multi packs of Cadbury but there has not been any for a while and Hersheys seems to be in and out of stock. I though about substituting for M&Ms but I did not feel that was close enough to the criteria.

So now we head to Coles and Woolworths the next day which yields the following prices. Firstly for Coles;

  • Bananas – $4.40 – 1kg
  • Apples Pink Lady – $4.98 – 1kg
  • Spaghetti (Coles brand) – $1.50 – 0.5kg
  • Four and Twenty Meat Pies – Chunky Angus Beef – $7.29 – 4 pack
  • Loose Mix Salad bag (not Mesculin but similar) – $3.00 – 0.2kg
  • Colgate Total + Whitening – $6.99 – 190g
  • Pack of 375ml Coke Cans – $16.00 – 24 cans [on special]
  • Bag of washed potatoes – $7.90 – 3kg
  • Frozen Vegetable (Birds Eye Stir Fry) –  $4.79 – 0.85kg
  • Tinned Tuna (Coles brand in Spring water) – $3.99 – 425g

And for Woolworths I found the following prices;

  • Bananas – $2.99 – 1kg
  • Apples Pink Lady – $4.98 – 1kg
  • Spaghetti (Woolworths brand) – $1.29 – 0.5kg
  • Four and Twenty Meat Pies – Chunky Angus Beef – $7.29 – 4ea
  • Loose Mesculin Mix Salad – $3.00 – 0.2kg
  • Colgate Total + Whitening – $6.99 – 190g
  • Pack of 375ml Coke Cans – $36.00 – 60cans [2 x 30 can packs on special]
  • Bag of washed potatoes – $4.98 – 2kg
  • Frozen Vegetable (Birds Eye Stir Fry) – $4.79 – 0.85kg
  • Tinned Tuna (Woolworths brand in Spring water) – $3.99 – 425g

I want to share a few notes on how I have applied the rules and other issues in aligning the products.

Firstly, I am of the opinion that the La Manna brand bananas are superior to the typical product that Coles and Woolworths (a.k.a. Colworths) stock but I am giving the big two the benefit of the doubt on this one.

The next matter is the brand of spaghetti Costco stock. The Garafallo pasta at Costco is not one I have come across elsewhere and it is a product of Italy. Because of this, I have gone with the Coles and Woolworths private label pasta for the comparison.

As for the Four and Twenty pies, this was a little bit of a challenge to balance. The chunky steak variety Costco stock is in the typical red and yellow box that you would associate with Four and Twenty pies. At Colworths, they have chunky Angus beef pies at the price above and the more traditional Four and Twenty beef mince pies for $7.15 in a four pack. Given that there is little price difference between the two types of pies, I went with the price of the chunky Angus variety. As a side note, check out the Bocastle chunky beef burgundy pies in the deli section at Costco. That is a great product.

Lastly, the largest size of tinned tuna at Coscto was Greenseas brand (in spring water). Neither my local Coles nor Woolworths had Greenseas in that size. In fact Coles didn’t carry Greanseas at all. My first thought was go with John West from Colworths, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt on this and selected their house brand. It is worth noting that using the price of John West tinned tuna from Coles or Woolworths, both selling it at $5.29, results in the basket final cost is around an additional 2% higher for both.

So, calculation time for these baskets and the metods used are the same as in Part 1. I won’t go through the detail again, but you can check my calculations in this Google Spreadsheet or this MS Excel file.

Here are the final basket prices from each retailer;

  • Costco – $41.68
  • Coles – $56.84
  • Woolworths – $53.59

On this basket of goods Costco was $15.16 cheaper than Coles (27% saving) and $11.91 cheaper than Woolworths (22% saving). The total cost of the bulk purchases at Costco comes to $94.80.

Now for me the most interesting piece of maths relates to that question that everyone asks themselves every year ‘Am I really getting my membership fee back in savings’? Now, aside from the fact that in my household we make typically one major electrical purchase per year that saves us big money, the calculation is quite simple. Let us assume that worst case you are saving 15% based on Costco versus Woolworths for the first basket. It is simply $60 ÷ 15% (in maths terms 60/0.15) which equals $400. So, after $400 worth of equivalent purchases at Colworths you should have made your membership fee back. Many families will spend that kind of money on groceries within a month and probably more.

As a parting gift for reading this far, and per the request from a user on Whirlpool Forums, here are the unit price comparisons for both baskets.

Cost $ per unit

Product Unit Costco Coles Woolworths
OMO Top Loader Powder kg

5.00

6.00

6.00

Palmolive Dish Washing Liquid L

4.70

5.00

5.32

Finish Dish Wash Tablets per tablet

0.31

0.48

0.36

Carrots kg

1.33

1.98

1.98

Pumpkin kg

2.66

2.48

1.98

A2 Milk L

1.85

2.50

2.50

Mainland Tasty Block kg

9.70

9.90

11.99

White Sliced Bread (Sunblest White sliced selected) loaf

2.45

3.49

2.75

Whole Lilydale Free Range Chicken kg

5.99

7.20

6.99

Beef Mince – lean kg

7.99

11.00

11.99

Oven Fries – Birdseye Golden Crunch kg

2.95

3.90

4.65

D Batteries – Duracell – $21.59 ea

1.80

3.00

2.75

Jack Daniels Old No .7 L

56.70

57.90

57.90

Bananas kg

3.21

4.40

2.99

Apples Pink Lady kg

3.72

4.98

4.98

Spaghetti kg

2.35

3.00

2.58

Four and Twenty Meat Pies – Chunky Beef ea

1.00

1.82

1.82

Loose Mesculin Mix Salad kg

13.97

15.00

15.00

Colgate Total + Whitening 100g

2.63

3.68

3.68

Pack of 375ml Coke Cans 375ml can

0.60

0.67

0.60

Bag of washed potatoes kg

1.20

2.63

2.49

Frozen Vegetable (Birds Eye Stir Fry) kg

4.66

5.64

5.64

Tinned Tuna 100g

0.81

0.94

0.94

Note

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

Tags: cheese, bananas, tuna, toothpaste, spaghetti, potatoes, pies, apples, comparison, Costco, Australia, Woolworths, Coles, Coke, salad,

7 Responses to A Basket Of Goods From Costco Australia, Coles and Woolworths – Part 2

  1. Pingback: A Basket Of Goods From Costco Australia, Coles and Woolworths – Part 1 | Loaded Trolley

  2. A Basket Of Goods From Costco Australia, Coles and Woolworths – Part 1 | Loaded Trolley said:

    […] Part 2 of this article can be found on this link. […]

    [[Comment imported from LoadedTrolley.com.au] at 5:04 pm on February 17, 2013]

  3. Pingback: Editorial: Channel 9′s A Current Affair One Eyed Look At Costco | Loaded Trolley

  4. Joe says:

    Well the evaluation looks OK but you people forgot the $60 Membership plus Customers have to go out of there way to shop there!
    And not to say Australia has the highest Fuel prices in the world as we can not compare Europe to Australia as a Tank of fuel lasts at least 3 weeks compared to Australia 3 days.
    So if you do your homework it is not worth going to Costco unless you got a single garage to fill up every six months or so!

    • Corey says:

      Hi Joe. Worst case we see Costco as 15% cheaper than the two major supermarket chains in Australia. Based on that a $400 shop at Costco saves the $60 membership fee. The average fortnightly shop for my family at Costco is in the $400 range and many people would be over $200 for their typical Costco shop so many Australians would save their membership fee back in 1 or 2 shops at Costco.

  5. spoonie love says:

    Yo Dawg, I just wanna say, if you’re going to compare costco to Coles/Woolies atleast do it right.

    You mentioned Woolworths tuna was $4 a can when infact it’s $2, cutting your difference between the two by $8.
    No if I buy 7 cans of tuna a week from costco i’m spending roughly $1200 a year a whole $472 MORE than woolworths per year.
    Including the $60 join fee boost it into $500+ more per year AND THATS JUST TUNA.

    Man do the math, work the numbers, you flat lion if you think costco beats Woolworths.

    Peace,
    Spoonie.

    • Corey says:

      Hi Spoonie…at the time of writing, and remember this post dates back to early 2013, the price of tuna was per what is stated in the article.

      From time to time Coles and Woolworths do have significant specials. However in a 12 week price survey that we did in early 2014 the price of a 425g can of Tuna was on average 11% more expensive at Coles and 15% more expensive at Woolworths. There were some weeks in that period that either Coles or Woolworths were cheaper than Costco, but never did we see a 425g can of tuna drop to $2 per can even on a multi-buy deal. I am confident that my analysis is sound.

      If you want to see a chart of the fluctuation in the price of tinned tuna at Coles and Woolworths over a 12 weeks period and how it compares to Costco on a unit pricing basis, have a look at this post we did as part of the 12 week price survey.

      We haven’t provided a final conclusion on the 12 week price survey but rest assured that both on average and by best case pricing Costco is cheaper than Coles and Woolworths. There is scrilla to be saved at Costco.

      Word,
      Corey

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