Personal Finance

Costco vs Loblaws

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A few months ago I wrote about whether a Costco membership is worth it, and listed the pros and cons of a Costco membership. Some pros were their Mary’s Organic crackers, their generous and lenient return policy, and the quality of their meats, not to mention the quality of their organic spinach. That spinach lasted me an entire month, I swear. I don’t know what they put into that stuff (hopefully nothing since it’s supposed to be organic).

Today I’m going to compare Costco and Loblaws. If you don’t know, Loblaws (TSE: L) owns a number of stores that aren’t called Loblaws. Loblaws owns No Frills, Extra Foods, The Real Canadian Superstore, Valu-Mart, Maxi’s, Zehr, Fortino’s, and Valu-Mart. One of my all-time favourite places to shop is No Frills. The produce is fresh and there are some really stealin’ deals in their flyers. However, I don’t live near one so I am too lazy to do my grocery shopping there. I did do a lot of grocery shopping there when I was obsessed with my attempt at mildly extreme couponing a while back. Now that I have let that go, I just shop where it’s convenient (as long as it’s not a Safeway) for produce.

So, which one is better? Loblaws aka Superstore or Costco?

Well, let’s take a look, shall we? I warn you some of this post might be biased because I tend to go to each for certain things.


When I said bias, I didn’t mean that I would analyze that one I preferred more first. Therefore, for the sake of fairness, I have ordered these in alphabetical order, with Costco going first.

The basic membership costs $55 on an annual basis. Sometimes there are coupon codes where you can get free movie tickets or $10 off but they do come about once in a blue moon. Costco has many things going for it, including free food samples and bulk-size packaging. For certain things, Costco blows Loblaws out of the water (especially when Loblaws stuff is not on sale). Some of these things are Mary’s Organic Crackers (for the same price you get 3x the size at Costco), milk (at least $1-1.50 cheaper for a 4L jug of milk), and spinach (consistently $2.99 whereas sometimes at Superstore it can be $4.00 or more unless it’s on sale). However, if you look at the cost-per-unit basis for things that are on sale at Loblaws, Loblaws beats Costco by a long shot. I remember analyzing the toilet paper and paper towels at Costco and at Superstore and the verdict was that Superstore toilet paper was cheaper (when on sale).


Loblaws (Superstore or No Frills in my part of town) doesn’t require a membership. I personally really like the design of the products available in their home section and their Joe Fresh line. Their produce can be hit or miss though. I remember buying a bag of organic carrots that seemed to produce sour milky water/ discharge well before the expiry date (haha sorry to give you a visual). Unfortunately, I was too lazy and too passive to go and return my milky bag of organic carrots. However, I hear that the quality of the produce depends on the Superstore and when you go (make sure to go on the day of grocery stock up). No Frills is usually great for produce.

The Verdict?

Well, they are both good for certain things. I wouldn’t go into Costco on a regular basis though (e.g. like on a weekly basis) just because I know that some people spend $700-800 a visit there to feed their family (yes, really) and when I go, I can’t get it under $100. That being said, Costco has some amazing quality stuff and it might be good to get your photography printed there, to get your electronics there, and buy your organic spinach there haha.

Also, another big factor is that Costco does not accept Mastercard or Visa. Only cash, debit, or American Express. For the die-hard MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® card holder in me, this is a big no-no.

I still have that tub of hummus from the previous post that I haven’t opened yet. It’s still sitting in a deep freeze somewhere haha. I should probably throw it away.

Readers, which one do you prefer to shop at? Costco or Loblaws?


Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals.

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