Sneaky Ways Costco Gets You To Spend More Money

Shopping at Costco is so easy, maybe even too easy, because it often feels like we're spending more money than we're saving. But how can a discount mega-store possibly be costing us more than a high-end supermarket that charges $5 a strawberry? The truth is, sometimes buying in bulk isn't the smartest choice, particularly when it comes to produce that spoils quickly, like the aforementioned strawberries.

Whether we'd like to admit it or not, spending hours at Costco getting lost among the skyscraper aisles, so loaded with budget deals it's impossible to just walk past and ignore them, might be causing our wallets more harm than good overall. The warehouse club is designed to save savvy shoppers money and, if you know how to properly navigate Costco, you will — but that doesn't mean they don't have a few tricks up their sleeves to get you to part with your hard-earned cash.

Costco is set up like a maze on purpose

First, and arguably, most glaringly, Costco stores are purposefully designed to be confusing. As NPR warns, the lack of signs makes customers wander around, trying to find things, which often causes them to purchase items they didn't need or want in the first place. Likewise, as The Krazy Coupon Lady points out, Costco makes bulk-buying products way too convenient. You go in for a regular supply of toilet paper and come out with a whole bomb shelter's worth.

Southern Living notes the in-house eatery also targets customers with rumbling stomachs. We all know the old adage of never shopping while hungry, and Costco, well, feeds off that idea by tempting us with the fast food and coffee to power us through another ramble around the aisles for stuff we don't need.

Costco is designed for impulse buys

Most people have enough self-control not to waste their money on impulse purchases, but as weird as it might sound, Costco's super-lenient returns policy actually encourages irresponsible spending. As Cheat Sheet advises, customers have less hesitation about buying things when they know Costco will take them back no questions asked.

Eat This, Not That! notes Costco also puts more expensive items at the front of the store, which purport to be great deals but actually aren't compared with what's available elsewhere. Similarly, items with prices ending in 97 cents are better discounts than wholesale items, which typically end in 99 cents. As for seasonal fare, make sure you're buying those for the following year right when the current season is ending, rather than at the beginning, because they'll be heavily discounted as Costco tries to get rid of unwanted stock.

Everything about Costco screams "bargains!"

As Reader's Digest advises, Costco is known for rotating certain items to create demand. After something is left out for a few days, it's hidden away. That's because, when customers ask for the product and are told it's sold out, they know not to hesitate the next time they see it. Also, stacking all their products up to the ceiling tricks our brains into wanting more of everything, rather than holding back because there isn't enough to go around.

Likewise, Costco keeps their décor very simple, almost drab, leaning heavily on the warehouse aspect, which gives the feeling that we're in a real bargain-basement environment and can trust that good deals abound. No matter the individual branch, the overwhelming feeling generated by Costco is that we're in a place where everything is a steal, which simply isn't the case.