Sam’s vs. Walmart

July 2, 2010 — Leave a comment

I have always been curious as to how good of a “deal” Sam’s Club is. I remember from my marketing classes that Sam’s was a master of making one think that he or she is getting a deal by buying straight from the warehouse. Did you know Sam’s Club stores, when they first opened, hired guys to drive forklifts around the store? These guys didn’t actually do any work; they just drove around the store to give the customer the feeling of bargain shopping in a warehouse. True story. To compare Sam’s and Walmart, I broke down everything into cost per unit or per ounce. I also threw in generic brands out of curiosity. My ridiculously nerdy spreadsheet containing all of the data can be found here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6959229/samsvswalmart.pdf) The comparison:

Sam’s Club:

Huggies Natural Care wipes $0.021/wipe
Huggies Size 4 Diapers $0.22/diaper
Quilted Northern Double Rolls $0.47/roll
Honey Nut Cheerios $0.14/oz.
Peter Pan Peanut Butter $0.08/oz.
Honey $0.15/oz.
Krusteaz Pancake Mix $0.041/oz.
Tyson Dino Chicken $0.16/oz.
Tyson Chicken Breasts $0.14/oz.
Blue Bell Ice Cream $0.083/oz.
Eggs $0.07/egg
Ego Waffles $0.15/oz.
Cheddar Cheese $0.13/oz.
Red Seedless Grapes $0.10/oz.
Gala Apples $0.09/oz.
Strawberries $0.09/oz.
Milk $2.83/gallon
Ritz Crackers $0.14/oz.
Goldfish Crackers $0.14/oz.
Mrs. Baird’s Large White Bread $0.08/oz.
Crest Toothpaste $0.31/oz.
Energizer AAA Batteries $0.42/battery

Walmart:

Huggies Natural Care wipes $0.024/wipe
Huggies Size 4 Diapers $0.23/diaper
Quilted Northern Double Rolls $0.50/roll
Honey Nut Cheerios $0.15/oz.
Peter Pan Peanut Butter $0.11/oz.
Honey $0.19/oz.
Krusteaz Pancake Mix $0.057/oz.
Tyson Dino Chicken $0.17/oz.
Tyson Chicken Breasts $0.17/oz.
Blue Bell Ice Cream $0.055/oz.
Eggs $0.1/egg
Ego Waffles $0.1/oz.
Kraft Cheddar Cheese $0.25/oz.
Red Seedless Grapes $0.12/oz.
Gala Apples $0.07/oz.
Strawberries $0.12/oz.
Milk $4.78/gallon
Ritz Crackers $0.16/oz.
Goldfish Crackers $0.21/oz.
Mrs. Baird’s Large White Bread $0.09/oz.
Crest Toothpaste $0.38/oz.
Energizer AAA Batteries $0.56/battery

Walmart Generic Brands:

Parent’s Choice wipes $0.017/wipe
Parent’s Choice Size 4 Diapers $0.17/diaper
Angel Soft Double Rolls $0.46/roll
Honey Nut Spins $0.13/oz.
GV Pan Peanut Butter $0.07/oz.
GV Honey $0.2/oz.
GV Pancake Mix $0.046/oz.
GV Dino Chicken $0.15/oz.
GV Chicken Breasts $0.14/oz.
GV Ice Cream $0.035/oz.
Eggs $0.1/egg
GV Waffles $0.1/oz.
GV Cheddar Cheese $0.23/oz.
Red Seedless Grapes $0.12/oz.
Gala Apples $0.07/oz.
Strawberries $0.12/oz.
GV Milk $3.98/gallon
GV Crackers $0.08/oz.
Cheddar Whale Crackers $0.12/oz.
GV White Bread $0.04/oz.
AIM Toothpaste $0.14/oz.
Rayovac AAA Batteries $0.42/battery

Summary: Average per ounce/per unit savings at Sam’s vs. Walmart = 21.13%. Not bad. The biggest savings items are milk (68.9%), cheddar cheese (88.2%), goldfish crackers (52.26%), and peanut butter (48.92%). View all the data here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6959229/samsvswalmart.pdf

However if you, like me, are cheap and buy generic for most things it is cheaper to shop at Walmart…average savings of 4.17%. PSA: if you do choose to go the generic route, please avoid the following knockoffs that can only be described as abominations: Honey Nut Spins, Cheddar Whales, AIM toothpaste, and Parent’s Choice diapers.

One other thing I discovered: At Walmart it is not always cheaper per unit or ounce to buy the larger-packaged quantity of an item. For example, yesterday it was more expensive (per ounce) to buy a 2lb block of cheddar cheese than it was to buy a 1lb block of cheese. Walmart can be a tricky little vixen. Beware.

The rest of the story….

This study came at a price. I got the squeaky-leaner cart at Walmart. I would pay 10% more to avoid a squeaky-leaner-carted Walmart trip. Also, I made the mistake of shopping at 5:15 on a weekday…and getting in the self-checkout line behind a couple who bought no fewer than 10 bottles of pickle relish (sadly, they purchased no breath mints) who couldn’t master the art of placing their item in the bagging area. For 10 minutes I listened to the repeated “Please place your item in the bagging area.”, to which the lady argued back, “I AM PLACING MY ITEM IN YOUR DAGGUM BAGGING AREA!” (she was not). I would have read a magazine, but my only choice had a shirtless Zac Efron on the cover and I didn’t want people to judge me. By the way, I think that we can all agree to dislike this Efron fellow.