Bargain Shopper Blog

Bargain Shoppers on Today Tonight, Channel 7

Jodie McLeod - Sunday, November 22, 2009
Bargain Shoppers Guide to Melbourne editor, Beth Anderson, shared her hottest bargain shopping tips for Christmas on Channel 7’s Today Tonight program on Monday 23 November.

Christmas is nearly upon us, and while everyone is looking forward to getting together with family, slicing the ham and cracking open the champagne, Australian families are not looking forward to outlaying hundreds in hard-earned cash on Christmas presents. With interest rates on the rise and a recovering economy, families around the country are rethinking their Christmas spend this year.

But to those families who are concerned about blowing their budget on Christmas presents this year, Bargain Shoppers Guide to Melbourne editor Beth Anderson says — never fear

Gift-giving is such an important part of the Christmas tradition, and, thankfully, there are ways you can find the best quality Christmas presents at bargain prices, leaving you with plenty of money left over to enjoy yourself over Christmas and New Year. 

Hear what Beth had to say on Today Tonight about where, when, how and what presents to buy for loved ones this Christmas – on a budget.

Also, follow Bargain Shoppers on Twitter to find out about the best sales in the lead up to Christmas! Follow BargainGuide for Melbourne and BargainGuru for Sydney.

Costco catches on

Jodie McLeod - Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Australian shoppers have been crying out for a low cost alternative to buying from supermarket giants. Now, with the opening of budget groceries and goods retailer Costco in Melbourne, locals there have had their wishes granted. But are the savings as good as they say?

US mega-retailer Costco has landed in Melbourne, promising to fulfil the dreams of cash-strapped shoppers by selling top brand products at wholesale prices. Bargain shoppers can buy everything from supermarket items to designer goods (that's right — you can buy a Louis Vuitton handbag with your loaf of bread!). Along with food, clothing and accessories there are nappies, appliances, TVs, automotive supplies and just about everything in between — all for well below recommended retail price.

While the savings made by shopping at Costco are written on the wall, there are a few catches that shoppers need to be aware of, which — depending on your situation — may outweigh the positives of paying less.

Membership fees
Costco is a shopping club, which means to shop there you must pay an upfront (and annual) fee of $60. Paying money to spend money? It sounds crazy, but for regular Costco shoppers the fee ultimately doesn’t amount to much, as the money is fairly quickly redeemed in savings on their grocery bill. The key is to shop at Costco often (at least once a month) to get the most out of your membership. If you only shop there once a year, it may not be worth it. Charging a membership fee is a clever way for Costco to ensure shoppers return to the store regularly.

Also, for every membership card bought, a second card can be given to a friend or family member living at the same residence for free. In effect, for many people the membership fee really only costs $30.

Buying in bulk
Buying in bulk may suit families who live in houses with plenty of storage space. But for singles, couples, students and anyone living in smaller apartments, buying in bulk is difficult. Where do you put the tower of 96 rolls of toilet paper in your one-bedroom flat? The answer — if you’re still keen to bulk up — is to shop with friends. But beware of the Costco rules…

Shopping with friends
While Costco only allows members to make purchases at their store, members are welcome to take two friends along with them for the ride. Regular Costco shopper in the US, Fiona, says that there’s no stopping a large group of friends with two or three Costco memberships between them doing their weekly groceries and divvying the purchases once they leave the store. “It takes a bit of organising, but it’s worth it in the end,” she says.

Worth the drive?
Costco is located at Melbourne Docklands, the equivalent of Sydney’s Darling Harbour, which means for people living out of town the cost of petrol and tolls to drive to Costco might add those dollars saved back onto your grocery bill. Try car-pooling with other Costco members from your area to make the trip worthwhile (and make sure you have a big car boot!). Also keep an eye on the time: parking is free for the first two hours, then $5 per hour thereafter.

No frills
The reason Costco is able to keep prices so low is that they have a no-frills approach, reducing overheads to a bare minimum. These savings are then passed onto the customer. But with low prices comes a low level of luxury. Costco sells clothing, but has no change rooms; and if you’re in a rush, there’s no express checkout to put you through speedily. Shop with low expectations, and you won’t be disappointed.

Sydney warehouse
Before all of you bargain hungry Sydneysiders pack your bags and hit the road to Melbourne, try holding out until the end of next year. While nothing is set in stone yet, the wheels are in motion to open a Costco outlet in Sydney in late 2010. The proposed address is 15-21 Parramatta Rd, Auburn — a much shorter drive than Melbourne!

Have you shopped at Costco? What are the pros and cons in your view? Submit your comment or email

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