The other day, I was buying groceries at Costco when I spotted giant bags of Halloween candy on display. At first, I was somewhat horrified given that it was still early September and my kids hadn’t even started school yet.
But then I remembered that the Pumpkin Spice Latte was already back at Starbucks despite it being 90 degrees out. So clearly, the marketing people who make these decisions no longer care about waiting until the appropriate season to peddle their wares.
Now, I didn’t pick up any Halloween candy on this particular Costco trip for one big reason. If I bring home a giant sack of assorted goodies, my kids will ransack that stash in short order. So I’d rather wait until closer to Halloween to stock up on candy.
Still, when I’m ready to buy my Halloween candy, Costco will most likely be my go-to source. Whether the same should hold true for you, however, depends on your situation.
Why Costco may not be your best bet
Let’s get one thing out of the way. Any time you buy grocery items in bulk, you’re likely to save money on a per-ounce or per-unit basis, regardless of what you’re purchasing. Candy is no exception. As such, I’m not going to compare the cost of a Costco-sized bag of candy to a smaller bag with 12 pieces. There’s just no comparison.
A 90-ounce bag of mixed chocolate miniatures that include M&Ms, Twix, and Reese’s will cost you $22.99 at Costco if you buy it online. That’s just $0.26 per ounce of candy. And you might spend even less if you buy it in-store.
Meanwhile, a five-pound variety pack of chocolates that includes some of the same ones in the Costco assortment will cost you $45.95 on Amazon. That’s $0.57 per ounce. So from a bulk pricing perspective, Costco is the clear winner (though to be fair, Amazon has many candy assortments on offer, so if you dig around the site long enough, you might find a better deal there).
But while Costco’s price for bulk candy is clearly competitive, the reality is that you probably don’t want to buy your Halloween candy there unless you’re absolutely certain you’re going to need a lot of it. If your neighborhood is filled with children and you tend to get a lot of people knocking on your door asking for candy, then sure, spring for a bulk bag from Costco. But if you tend to get just a handful of trick-or-treaters, then you’re probably better off getting your Halloween candy from a regular supermarket.
Even if you end up spending four times as much on a per-ounce basis for candy, you’re better off running up a $6 credit card tab if you don’t eat a lot of candy or simply don’t want a lot of it sitting in your kitchen, and you don’t expect to have enough trick-or-treaters to use up a bulk bag. Heck, my neighborhood gets tons of trick-or-treaters, and there are years when we don’t even manage to give away the entire Costco bag.
Thankfully, as mentioned earlier, I live with a gang of vultures who are more than happy to make that excess chocolate disappear. But you may not want to spend extra money when you really don’t have to.
Adopt a “use it or don’t buy it” strategy with Costco
No matter what grocery item I’m thinking of buying in bulk at Costco, I implement one simple rule: Use it up, or don’t buy it.
Now sure, you could argue that in many cases, I’m better off buying a bulk item from Costco, using 70% of it, and just throwing the remaining 30% away because that’ll still be cheaper than a smaller quantity at a regular supermarket. But I happen to be someone who gets bothered by food waste, so I prefer not to go that route.
Meanwhile, I can admit that I enjoy Halloween candy just as much as my kids (maybe more), so I never feel like I’m taking a big risk in buying a bulk assortment of it. Worst case, we’ll just have junk to snack on for months on end, since mass-produced candy doesn’t go bad very quickly.
But it does pay to be honest with yourself in the context of Halloween candy and any other bulk grocery item you may be tempted to scoop up at Costco. If you don’t think you’ll use it up, you may want to just pass.
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