Costco vs Loblaws

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A few months ago I wrote about whether a Costco membership is worth it, and listed the pros and cons of a Costco membership.  Some pros were their Mary's Organic crackers, their generous and lenient return policy, and the quality of their meats, not to mention the quality of their organic spinach.  That spinach lasted me an entire month, I swear.  I don't know what they put into that stuff (hopefully nothing since it's supposed to be organic).

Today I'm going to compare Costco and Loblaws.  If you don't know, Loblaws (TSE: L) owns a number of stores that aren't called Loblaws.  Loblaws owns No Frills, Extra Foods, The Real Canadian Superstore, Valu-Mart, Maxi's, Zehr, Fortino's, and Valu-Mart.  One of my all-time favourite places to shop is No Frills.  The produce is fresh and there are some really stealin' deals in their flyers.  However, I don't live near one so I am too lazy to do my grocery shopping there.  I did do a lot of grocery shopping there when I was obsessed with my attempt at mildly extreme couponing a while back.  Now that I have let that go, I just shop where it's convenient (as long as it's not a Safeway) for produce.

So, which one is better?  Loblaws aka Superstore or Costco?

Costco vs LoblawsWell, let's take a look, shall we?  I warn you some of this post might be biased because I tend to go to each for certain things.

Costco

When I said bias, I didn't mean that I would analyze that one I preferred more first.  Therefore, for fairness sake, I have ordered these in alphabetical order, with Costco going first.

The basic membership costs $55 on an annual basis.  Sometimes there are coupon codes where you can get free movie tickets or $10 off but they do come about once in a blue moon.  Costco has many things going for it, including free food samples and bulk size packaging.  For certain things, Costco blows Loblaws out of the water (especially when Loblaws stuff is not on sale).  Some of these things are Mary's Organic Crackers (for the same price you get 3x the size at Costco), milk (at least $1-1.50 cheaper for a 4L jug of milk), and spinach (consistently $2.99 whereas sometimes at Superstore it can be $4.00 or more unless it's on sale).  However, if you look at the cost-per-unit basis for things that are on sale at Loblaws, Loblaws beats Costco by a long shot.  I remember analyzing the toilet paper and paper towels at Costco and at Superstore and the verdict was that Superstore toilet paper was cheaper (when on sale).

Loblaws

Loblaws (Superstore or No Frills in my part of town) doesn't require a membership.  I personally really like the design of the products available in their home section and their Joe Fresh line.  Their produce can be hit or miss though.  I remember buying a bag of organic carrots that seemed to produce sour milky water/ discharge well before the expiry date (haha sorry to give you a visual).  Unfortunately, I was too lazy and too passive to go and return my milky bag of organic carrots.  However, I hear that the quality of the produce depends on the Superstore and when you go (make sure to go on the day of grocery stock up).  No Frills is usually great for produce.

The Verdict?

Well, they are both good for certain things.  I wouldn't go into Costco on a regular basis though (e.g. like on a weekly basis) just because I know that some people spend $700-800 a visit there to feed their family (yes, really) and when I go, I can't get it under $100.  That being said, Costco has some amazing quality stuff and it might be good to get your photography printed there, to get your electronics there, and to organic spinach there haha.

Also, another big factor is that Costco does not accept Mastercard or Visa.  Only cash, debit, or American Express.  For the die hard MBNA Rewards card holder in me, this is a big no no.

I still have that tub of hummus from the previous post that I haven't opened yet.  It's still sitting in a deep freeze somewhere haha. I should probably throw it away.

Readers, which one do you prefer to shop at?  Costco or Loblaws?

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Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.

4 Comments

  1. Cory on July 25, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Much of our family of 4 shopping is done at Costco. The bread, meats, canned goods, frozen goods are always great values.
    Yes Superstore can have some fantastic sales but if you need something this week and it is not on sale you will pay a significat premium. Now that said we shop at Superstore once a month or 2 to purchase the things we don’t want/need in bulk (margarine, soups etc) and for brand variety especially in household cleaners, baking supplies and health and beauty products.
    I find buying fruits and vegetables at both to be only ok. Too much at Costco which means throwing stuff away or poor quality @ Superstore. We try and shop at a Farmer’s Market and small grocer for these items because the quality and variety we want is there.
    Cereals, Spaghetti sauce, bulk spices etc are much cheaper at Costco and their Kirkland brand is better quality and per unit price than most President Choice items. Using an AMEX Airmiles card also means and the executive Membership I get a decent reward for shopping there!



  2. Kevin on September 26, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    “Also, another big factor is that Costco does not accept Mastercard or Visa. Only cash, debit, or American Express. For the die hard MBNA Rewards card holder in me, this is a big no no.”

    There is a way you can still earn those rewards while shopping at Costco. You can use any credit card you want on the Costco website. What that means is if you’re willing to wait a few days, you can purchase a Costco Cash Card online with your MBNA Rewards Card, and use the cash card to buy groceries, etc in store!



  3. Young on October 4, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    @kEvin- good work around!



  4. Scott on March 24, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    Costco is better by far. Good quality at good prices. Our Extra Foods store here routinely practices bait and switch and leaves the wrong codes in the cash registers so you don’t get charged the sale prices. You have to watch the cashier like a hawk to make sure the correct prices get entered.



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