How to Offset Rising Gas Prices at Costco

If you're not a Costco member, now might be a good time to join.

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I did a double-take on my way into work this morning—a gas station marquee showed that a gallon of gas was going for $5. While I’m not a car owner (bless Chicago for being a commuter city!), I can’t deny the impact this has on the millions of drivers across the country and the ripple effect that will have on businesses and other consumers. Case in point: new data from Placer.ai shows the steepest drop in in-store retail foot traffic in the last year unrelated to COVID.

How gas prices affect grocery shopping

Rising gas prices are making people think twice about taking their cars out for frequent grocery runs. That means less stock is leaving store shelves, leading to fewer restock orders being put in—it’s possible that store owners will let shelves empty out before restocking in order to prevent wasting expired inventory. And of course as the stores themselves see less business, that trickles down to fewer hours for workers and ultimately has a negative effect on the company’s bottom line.

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Even ordering groceries online is becoming less attractive—companies like Instacart are adding fuel surcharges onto orders, which is more money out of your pocket anyway. That fee doesn’t really help the drivers and shoppers that much, leaving more pressure on those already underpaid workers to keep a full gas tank.

Placer.ai predicts that Costco stands to gain the most from this predicament because of the chain’s low-priced gas stations. But are you really saving that much more when you have to drive out to Costco and idle in long lines for gas that costs a few cents less per gallon?

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Instead, we should be focusing on the real way Costco can help us curb inflation: buying in bulk.

The best way to buy in bulk

Ditch the weekly grocery trips. At Costco you can stock up for the month (maybe even two!) and cut down on drives to the store. If you’re a first-time Costco shopper, be sure to check out some handy tips to get you started; beyond that, when it comes to buying in bulk, these are the key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Consider your space. It’s easy to go nuts when you first walk into a wholesale store and grab every large item you see, but it’s important to consider if you’ll be able to easily get everything home and where you will actually store these items once you do. Look deep inside yourself and decide if you’re a person who can turn a giant box of oats into a quirky home decor item before committing to the purchase.
  • Buy complete meals. If whatever you’re stocking up on requires a separate trip to a grocery store to be edible, then this plan won’t really work. And that’s exactly what this trip will require: planning! A grocery list is a must. Consider what is in walking distance from your home; if you’re able to pop into a corner store for smaller odds and ends, leave those off of the shopping list to make room for more bulk buying. Just make sure you can actually use everything you get.
  • Don’t get distracted by novelty items. Yes, the great thing about Costco is that you can get enough coffee to last you the year alongside a Squishmallow the size of your torso, but that doesn’t mean you should. If combating rising gas prices is the goal, it’s time to put your blinders on and stick to the task at hand.
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With any luck, you’ll be able to hole up with your Costco goods until this whole gas crisis thing is over, and discover the joys of wholesale grocery shopping along the way.