13 Ways Costco Gets You to Spend More Money

Shoppers flock to Costco for affordable one-stop shopping (not to mention those coveted food samples). However, if you find yourself leaving the warehouse store with more than you originally bargained for, you’re not alone. Costco boasts some great deals but inevitably employs some retail tricks to encourage customers to spend more.

CostcoKen Wolter/Shutterstock

Brand limits

It often feels like Costco sells everything under the sun—after all, you can purchase everything from ice cream to tires there. But Kristin McGrath, editor and shopping expert at Offers.com, points out that you don’t get the same kind of brand diversity as you might at a typical grocery or drugstore. “Yes, maybe you’re getting a ‘good deal’ on, say, Dove shampoo by buying it in bulk,” says McGrath. “But you’re missing out on the chance to buy a more affordable brand, because Costco simply doesn’t carry it.” Check out these secrets Costco employees won’t tell you.

Free samples of drinkNicole S Glass/Shutterstock

Sample savvy

If a shopper plays his or her cards right, one can make an entire meal out of Costco’s sampling stations. But, obviously, those aren’t set up as merely a perk for customers. “One of the best parts of Costco is the free-sample stations,” says McGrath. “But those can also be one of the most manipulative parts. If you like the tasty drink or appetizer they are serving and get influenced into impulse-purchasing it, you’re going to end up buying a bunch of it in bulk (because bulk is your only option) and spending a lot on something you didn’t plan to buy.” Here’s what else you need to know about Costco’s free samples.

Pushing Costco cartRick Bowmer/AP/Shutterstock

Wandering eyes

You headed into Costco to stock up on eggs and cheese, yet you’re leaving with those things plus new bed pillows, a sweatshirt and a blender. What gives? “One of the amazing things about Costco is the sheer variety of products available,” says Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert for Retail Me Not. “They have everything from bulk groceries to pool accessories to beauty products. Don’t allow yourself to wander down the aisles and get swept up in all the goodies. Keep your head down and head directly to the items you’re there to buy.” Read up on these 10 bizarre things you never knew you could get at Costco.


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