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All Contents © 2017The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Bob Niedt, Online Editor
| November 20, 2017
Costco has been stirring the pot for years with its Kirkland Signature brand. By most accounts, the warehouse club has pulled out all the stops to make sure its private-label goods, from batteries to beer and everything in between, are on par with or a cut above national brands. So it makes sense to take advantage of your Costco membership to stretch your dollars for the holidays without skimping on quality.
“Kirkland products are especially great during the holidays because shoppers can actualize savings when they buy in bulk,” says Courtney Jespersen, consumer savings expert at deals website NerdWallet. “Stock up on anything you’ll be using a lot during the holiday season.”
Here are 10 of the Kirkland Signature products that Jespersen and other deals experts like the most at Costco for the holidays based on price, quality and bulk-buying convenience.
Don’t get caught short-handed when the toys and gadgets get unwrapped. We’ve long recommended buying batteries in bulk at warehouse clubs for the simple reason that you’ll pay a lot less per battery than you would buying smaller packages at supermarkets or drugstores. You’ll save even more at Costco if you opt for its store-branded batteries. While the Kirkland Signature AA Alkaline batteries tested by Consumer Reports didn’t beat out Duracell or Rayovac on quality alone, Costco batteries did earn kudos for the combination of quality and value.
NerdWallet’s Jespersen echoes that sentiment: “For example, two 64-packs of AAA Kirkland Signature batteries cost $39.99 right now at Costco. That’s 31 cents per battery. Compare that to [two] 32-packs of Duracell AAA batteries for $31.99. That’s 50 cents per battery.”
Some states allow retailers such as Costco to sell hard alcohol, some just beer and wine. The price and quality of Costco’s branded beers and wines puts them front and center for the holidays.
“Kirkland wine makes a great hostess gift, because not only is it affordable, but it's made by name-brand wineries,” says Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com. A recent taste test by Bloomberg’s wine critic heaped praise on two under-$10 Kirkland wines: the 2016 Ti Point Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, a white from New Zealand, and the 2014 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a California red.
Beer is on our short list, too. Start with basic Kirkland Signature Light Beer. It comes at very nice prices in 30- and 48-packs, and it tops Bud Light in taste (in our opinion, at least). Costco’s heartier craft brews such as its Kirkland Signature India Pale Ale score higher marks on beer enthusiast websites. Prices get high marks, too. Variety packs of Kirkland craft beers were selling for $20 a case, versus $29 for a case of a variety pack of Goose Island.
Ramhold of DealNews.com sings the praises of Costco’s Belgian taste during the holidays, with several signature holiday-themed food gifts for sale.
“Shoppers can find tins of European cookies with Belgian chocolate, boxes of Belgian chocolate biscuits and boxes of Belgian chocolate candies that also make excellent hostess gifts,” Ramhold says. “They're often better bargains than buying smaller boxes of chocolates from other grocery stores, and quality tends to be far better as well.”
A 4-pack of Kirkland Signature Luxury Belgian Chocolate is listed on Costco.com for $60, or $15 per box. Each box contains 46 chocolates.
Oenophiles are already familiar with Kirkland Signature wines, but spirits snobs might still be in the dark about Costco’s store-brand booze. Not all Costco warehouse clubs sell hard alcohol. It depends on state and local laws. But if yours does, stock up. “[Kirkland] liquor is a great value for holiday gatherings and holiday parties,” says deals expert Andrea Woroch.
Carson Yarbrough, savings and retail expert at Offers.com, gives a shout out to Kirkland Signature Vodka.
“You can find Kirkland Signature Vodka at a cut-rate price, with quality similar to mid- to high-range vodka brands,” says Yarbrough. “Buying alcohol at Costco can end up saving you a ton of money if you are buying in bulk for holiday parties and dinners.”
You’ll usually find bins of Costco’s signature clothing at the center of the store or, sometimes, by the main entrance. No matter where it’s displayed, be selective. According to Yarbrough of Offers.com, you can often find higher-quality shoes and apparel at better prices at Target, J.C. Penney and similar retailers.
That said, there are some good deals out there for fashionistas who fancy the Kirkland Signature line. Jeanette Pavini, savings expert at Coupons.com, points to three items, in particular, that are nicely priced for the holidays:
Adds Woroch, “Kirkland clothing makes great gifts without breaking the bank.”
“You can buy Kirkland coffee in bulk at Costco,” recommends Yarbrough, “perfect for keeping a houseful of family, friends and guests happy when hosting for the holidays.”
Kirkland Signature Colombian Supremo whole bean coffee received a good rating for price and quality from Consumer Reports. A 3-pound bag is listed on Costco.com for $18, or $6 per pound. That’s less than you’d pay per pound for a premium coffee from the likes of Starbucks. Consumer Reports scored a few Colombian coffees from other makers higher on taste, including a couple of coffee lines from Whole Foods, but none could compete with Kirkland’s price.
The unglamorous aspect of holiday entertaining rears its head when the party is over: the cleanup. Make your life a bit easier – and your wallet a bit fatter – by investing in high quality, low price Kirkland garbage bags. Really.
“Garbage bags are another product that's worth buying during the holidays,” says Ramhold of DealNews.com. “Granted, they're always affordable, and the quality of the Kirkland brand is always great. Many shoppers host at least one major party during the holiday season, and Kirkland garbage bags can handle everything from paper goods to glass bottles with ease.”
You can score a box of 200 Kirkland Signature Flex-Tech 13-gallon kitchen bags for $16.29 on Costco.com. Comparable 13-gallon ForceFlex kitchen bags from Glad run $20.29 – and that only gets you 140 bags in the box. You’d pay $4 more for 60 fewer bags if you go with Glad.
Flying for the holidays and need to replace your old suitcase? Or maybe you’re looking for a gift for the frequent traveler on your shopping list? Costco has you covered.
Right now, Costco has a hot carry-on at a good price, says Pavini of Coupons.com. She recommends the Kirkland Signature Softside Spinner 22-inch Carry-On Luggage selling for $99.99.
It’s not a holiday party without a big bowl of mixed nuts, right? And one of our deals experts, Offers.com’s Yarbrough, is nuts for nuts from Costco.
“The Kirkland brand features a lot of bulk mixed nuts and trail mix products, which you can set out as an easy snack for guests before dinner,” she says. “Grab the bulk party snacks at Costco to find better savings than grocery stores and other retailers.” A 2.5-pound jar of Kirkland Signature Mixed Nuts (salted or unsalted) goes for $21.49 on Costco.com.
There are higher thread counts out there, but these sheets feel luxe for the price. And a pre-Black Friday sale at Costco makes them even more affordable. Your holiday houseguests will never guess how much you really paid.
We’re talking Kirkland Signature 540 Thread Count sheet sets, available in queen, king and cal-king sizes. They’re typically a bargain for $60 to $70 per set, which includes a flat sheet, a fitted sheet and four pillowcases. The big deal ahead of Black Friday: They’re reduced by $15 a set through Thanksgiving Day.
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