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Is Aldi cheaper than Costco?

Is Aldi cheaper than Costco?

Theo Thimou April 20, 2016
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OK, cards on the table: I don’t like warehouse clubs. I find everything from looking for parking to grabbing the giant shopping carts overwhelming. And that’s before I even get in the store! Once I’m in, finding myself confronted with aisle after endless aisle — all seemingly packed to the ceiling — makes me woozy.

Costco vs. Aldi

I think it’s that there are simply too many choices at warehouse clubs for my taste. Plus, I’m not keen on paying a fee to shop at them. When I do happen into a warehouse club once a year for an annual work-related event, I’m reminded of the old Devo lyric: “Freedom of choice is what you have / Freedom from choice is what you want.”

Aldi, on the other hand, is the exact opposite: The store has four aisles in a space that’s about the size of a chain pharmacy. While there are only three or four registers to checkout, the line moves quickly because every product is marked with multiple barcodes. That makes it a breeze for the cashiers to do their thing without fumbling to look for a barcode!

Read more: Secret pricing hacks at Costco, Sam’s Club and BJs

Both Aldi and Costco are big into store brands. With Costco, it’s primarily the Kirkland Signature label. With Aldi, there are any of a variety of store labels like Simply Nature, Never Any! and Tandil, to name just a few.

We can talk all day about whether Costco offers better quality store brands than Aldi. That’s a separate issue. The real test for me in thinking about these two very different kinds of stores is price. Which one is cheaper? I took a look at 10 grocery items to find out.  Read on because the answer may surprise you…

(Special thanks to Queen Bee Coupons for pulling the data on Costco’s prices in this April 2016 spreadsheet. I pulled the numbers myself on Aldi prices while shopping there this weekend.)

(Full disclosure: I received no compensation from either Aldi or Costco to write this article.)

Store brand pizza

Aldi
Mama Cossi’s 16″ Five Cheese Deli Pizza
Total price: $4.99
Unit price: 12.2 cents per ounce
Costco
Kirkland Signature Cheese Pizza (4 count)
Total price: $9.99
Unit price: 15 cents per ounce

Winner: Aldi


Store brand organic deli meat

Aldi
Lunch Mate Never Any! Turkey (no antibiotics/hormones/nitrates/nitrites)
Total price: $2.99
Unit price: 42.8 cents per ounce
Costco
Turkey, Plainville Farms organic sliced
Total price: $8.79 a pound
Unit price: 54 cents per ounce

Winner: Aldi


Store brand goat cheese (hey, what can I say? I’m Greek!)

Aldi
Happy Farms Preferred Goat Cheese
Total price: $1.99
Unit price: 49.8 cents per ounce
Costco
Kirkland Signature Goat Cheese
Total price: $6.99 a pound
Unit price: 33 cents per ounce

Winner: Costco


Store brand garbage bags

Aldi
Boulder four-flap tall kitchen bags, 13 gallon
Total price: $4.99
Unit price: 6.3 cents per bag
Costco
Kirkland Signature Drawstring Kitchen Bag, 13 gallon
Total price: $12.79
Unit price: 6 cents per bag

Winner: Tie


Store brand HE laundry detergent

Aldi
Tandil Premium HE (high efficiency) Liquid Laundry Detergent
Total price: $5.99
Unit price: 6 cents per fluid ounce
Costco
Kirkland Signature Ultra Free and Clear 2x HE (high efficiency)
Total price: $13.99
Unit price: 7 cents per fluid ounce

Winner: Aldi


Store brand sparkling water

Aldi
Pur Aqua La Vie Sparkling Flavored Water
Total price: $2.99
Unit price: 2.1 cents per fluid ounce
Costco
Kirkland Signature Sparkling Flavored Water Variety
Total price: $9.49
Unit price: 2.3 cents per fluid ounce

Winner: Tie


Grape tomatoes

Aldi
Double Diamond Farms Grape Tomatoes
Total price: 79 cents per dry pint
Price per pound: less than 79 cents (One dry pint is 18.6 ounces. A pound is 16 ounces. We’ll call it a pound for argument’s sake.)
Costco
Tomatoes, grape, hothouse grown
Total price: $5.99
Price per pound: $3

Winner: Aldi


Organic apples

Aldi
Organic apples
Total price: $4.99
Unit price: $1.66 per pound
Costco
Apples, Fuji, organic
Total price: $13.99
Unit price: $2.54 per pound

Winner: Aldi


Store brand organic milk

Aldi
Simply Nature organic fat-free milk
Total price: $2.95
Unit price: 4.7 cents per fluid ounce
Costco
Milk, Kirkland Signature, 1%, organic
Total price: $10.99
Unit price: 5.7 cents per fluid ounce

Winner: Aldi


Store brand organic tortilla chips

Aldi
Simply Nature Organic Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips
Total price: $1.99
Unit price: 18 cents per ounce
Costco
Kirkland Signature Tortilla Chips, organic
Total price: $4.99
Unit price: 13 cents per ounce

Winner: Costco


Conclusion

Though my selection of items was highly arbitrary, Aldi won six of the contests on the price front, while Costco won two. Both competitors tied in two other categories.

I think these results really say something. Many people I talk to rave about how cheap Costco is…but are they really?

At Costco, you have to purchase in bulk, which doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. And let’s not forget that shopping at Costco costs $55 a year for a membership.

Of course, this isn’t to say that Costco can’t be a smart choice for you or your family. I picked 10 randomly selected items to price compare based on what went into my shopping cart this past weekend. Your results may vary and they could make that Costco membership worth it for your family.

Read more: 10 surprises you probably didn’t know about Aldi

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Theo Thimou is director of content for ClarkHoward.com. He has co-written 2 books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times.
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