There are certain things in life I just assume: the sky is blue, Grandma’s food is safe to eat, and Wal-Mart is the cheapest place to buy groceries. Last week my assumptions have been shaken to the core. No, my grandmother didn’t poison me, and the sky didn’t turn neon green; I found out that Wal-Mart might not have the lowest prices when it comes to groceries! All these year of thinking I’m saving money could be lies. A group in my supply chain management class did a study on pricing and grocery stores (only in Reno). As you would expect, most of the people in my class (including me) assumed Wal-Mart would be the cheapest. Once their presentation was over they did the big reveal, and their findings suggested that Safeway was the cheapest grocery store in our area. Some of the stores they compared were: Riley’s, Wal-Mart, Safeway, Costco, Whole Foods, and a local Co-Op. They got their results by making a large shopping list and going around to each of the stores to figure out how much money the groceries would cost when buying comparable items.
My first instinct was that they’re full of it. I’ve shopped at Safeway and Wal-Mart, and I truly believed Wal-Mart was cheaper (which is why most poor college kinds shop at Wal-Mart). I could see a lot of room for error in their calculations. I had no idea if the brands they bought were the same ones that I usually get. I brushed it off. They were wrong. The next class period I overheard everyone talking, and apparently an article came out in some big newspaper that reinforces their findings: Wal-Mart isn’t the cheapest grocery store. I’ve looked everywhere, but I can’t find the article (if you have seen this article please let me know where it is). I’m choosing to believe my classmates, because I doubt they plotted against me to change where I buy my groceries. I’m wondering to myself, how can this be? Have I been brain-washed by Wal-Mart? Please tell me I’m not putting up with their terrible crowds and lighting for nothing! Main goal has been to save money by finding the cheapest groceries, and I might have failed!
I’ll probably continue to shop at Wal-Mart because I swear it’s cheaper, but there must be some truth to their findings. Maybe it’s time for me to do some research of my own (I do need to go grocery shopping today). I may have been making a huge personal finance mistake by assuming that Wal-Mart’s atmosphere is terrible so their prices must be the lowest. Have you done your research on where to buy your groceries? What did you find?
April 27, 2012 at 10:52 AM
I find that WalMart has really good deals on certain key items, while many other prices are average at best. Another thing to keep in mind is that WalMart is the king of packaged and processed food. It’s probably the cheapest place to get these things, but the markup on them is huge. I find shopping at a local produce store and then heading to Safeway for meat and milk works well. And, since the price of packaged food at Safeway is pretty astronomical, I’m less tempted to buy it at all. Ethnic grocers also seem to have really good deals.
April 27, 2012 at 7:23 PM
I’ve notice that Wal-Mart’s produce section and meat selection isn’t very appealing to say the least. I’ll have to start getting my meat at Safeway. Thanks for the advice.
April 27, 2012 at 10:58 AM
I would be interested in seeing that article too.. I’ve found through comparison shopping that in my area, the big-name grocery stores (Von’s, Ralph’s, Albertson’s) have the highest prices. The lowest prices I’ve found were at discount grocers like Food4Less, and club stores like Costco. Believe it or not, we don’t have a Super Walmart near enough to make it worthwhile. What I’ve heard is that in areas of low competition, Super Walmart raises their prices. Maybe that’s what’s going on.
April 27, 2012 at 10:59 AM
It may just depend on what people buy or what brands they stick to. In our area, I rarely go to Wal-Mart because I haven’t found much of a price difference from when I buy off brand things from Dillons or HyVee. However, my favorite place to shop for the basics is Aldi. The only downside is that ours doesn’t carry many specialty items, but considering what we save by shopping there, I’m okay with spending a little more for special ingredients elsewhere (plus we keep things simple and rarely need more than the essentials).
April 27, 2012 at 7:20 PM
That’s what I was thinking. Their shopping lists must be completely different than mine.
April 27, 2012 at 4:33 PM
Hard to believe nationally, but perhaps that is an anomaly limited to your local area.
April 27, 2012 at 7:17 PM
From what I’ve heard the article that came out was a national one, but I’m still looking for it!
April 29, 2012 at 1:16 AM
I live in a major city where there are no Wal-Marts. However, I have been to Wal-Mart numerous times, especially when I travel north of my city, and I wholeheartedly agree with the findings.
I had always heard that Wal-Mart was so cheap. I had always heard that they had the best prices. But imagine my surprise when visit after visit I found that to be completely and totally untrue. In fact, I have found that unless they have a really good sale, their prices are the same if not worse when compared to other places. (And I am talking about purchasing the same or almost the same types/brands of items and comparing them to an overpriced, expensive city.)
But I thought Wal-Mart does price matching? Couldn’t someone just make up the difference in price that way?
April 29, 2012 at 9:35 AM
I forgot about that! I guess we could use the price matching. I know they did it for Christmas. It would be harder with groceries because you have to prove the price difference. Unless you have a newspaper insert it might be difficult. Wal-Mart has such a terrible atmosphere that your’re better off just to shop somewhere else if you can afford it. I’ve definitely noticed the difference in clientele between Wal-Mart and other stores.
August 7, 2013 at 10:46 PM
We have walmarta here.m we also have a Walmart grocery store called a neighbourhood store, I write a blog on grocery shopping on the cheap. When I price compared things, wallmart was more expensive on most things, only the pasta sauce and Roma tomatoes were the same low price as the other stores. I don’t think that any one store has the lowest prices on everything.
September 20, 2014 at 9:41 PM
Save a lot is the cheapest