Costco CEO Offers Simple Shopping Tips

The CEO of Costco gives shopping tips and they don't always involve bulk buying.

Aug. 14, 2008 — -- Costco co-founder and CEO James Sinegal sat down with "Good Morning America" anchor Chris Cuomo to offer advice on simple shopping strategies in these tough economic times. He gave three tips for every shopper looking to stretch a dollar:

1. Look for house/generic brands.

"They generally represent a great value," said Sinegal. "And if it's the type of retailer that has great quality built into those house brands, you're really saving yourself a lot of money and getting great value."

2. Look for the bigger packages.

"Larger packages are almost always a better value per ounce," said Sinegal.

3. Buy prepared foods.

Sinegal said that they "can be a great savings as an alternative to going out to a restaurant."

But buying in bulk might not always be the best choice, and even Costco's CEO recognizes that.

"Well, it's not a good idea if you're gonna throw it away," said Sinegal. "I mean, it's very simple. If you're over-purchasing -- if you buy 20 pounds of potatoes, and you're only gonna use 5 pounds of them -- it's not a good buy."

Sinegal continued to decipher the psychology of shopping: "Obviously, these products, when they're in big sizes, sometimes look very attractive. It's worth the time to just check it out and make sure that you're getting the right product, and something that you can use in a short period of time."

Sinegal also told Cuomo that Costco has seen a rise in the purchase of prepared foods, as well as in Costco's food court sales.

"We never would have expected that the business in our food court has increased pretty dramatically recently, and some of our prepared meals," he said. " We have some items like chicken Alfredo that ... for $12 or $13 [could] feed a family of five. That's a great alternative to going out to a restaurant. And we see big increases in those types of products."

When asked how long he thought rising or higher fuel costs would influence food prices, Sinegal said, "Unless we see a significant drop in the cost of fuel, my guess is that we'll see prices continue to climb a little bit. They may moderate somewhat with the recent decreases in fuel. But I don't see anything changing much in the next 15 months."

He added, "That's my personal view. I hope I'm wrong."

Many consumers will hope he is wrong as well.