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Secrets to getting in and out of Costco fast

Let’s talk about shopping at Costco. It’s a huge store. You’re there to buy in bulk. You’re there for the deals. You’re probably not there to pick up a bottle of cocktail onions on your way to a picnic. But still. You may not want to make a whole day of your shopping trip. If you do, hey, great. We get that. But this is for those of you who want to be in and out.

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SheKnows executive editorial director Julie Ross Godar just happens to live right by a Costco. Her friends call her neighborhood Costco Flats. She’s learned a thing or two about stealth shopping there, and she’s been kind enough to share it with the world.

1. Profile those shopping carts

You want to look for big boxes and flats. “Get behind people buying tons of large items that stay in their carts if you can,” Godar says. “They don’t need to be bagged.” Bagging takes time. So does moving items in and out of the shopping cart.

2. Shop on weekdays at opening time

“If you can manage it, go when it opens on a weekday,” and right when the doors open, she says, adding, “There’s way fewer people.” Not only that, people shopping that early are buying for restaurants and tend to buy those big items mentioned in the first point.

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3. Don’t pay for your snacks in the food court

“Order and pay for snacks at the register so you don’t have to stand in the longer food court line,” Godar advises.

4. In fact, avoid mealtime shopping altogether

Be flexible about when you shop so you can avoid getting stuck in a warehouse full of hungry people who will suddenly want to order the Polish sausage and soda deal just as they’ve been rung up. “Whether or not you plan to order food at the register to pick up at the food counter, the people in front of you might, and those orders will slow down the checkout line,” Godar says.

“If you do plan to order food at the register, the prepaid pickup line at the food counter, which is usually shorter and faster than the pay-at-the-counter lines, will also be way long.” So that’s another reason to avoid mealtime shopping.

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5. Stay small and head for the middle lines

Godar says she’s noticed that the middle checkout lanes tend to be a bit shorter, but they’re often blocked off by the longer lanes on either end. “So if you can, bring your own small pushcart or bring bags and buy only what you can carry around the store in them.” This will give you an edge when weaving through the long lanes. “Stay small and you can cut through those blocked lines to the sweet spot.”

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