Comparison shopping in the discount grocery aisles

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Comparing prices between grocery stores, while often a frugal move, can feel like it takes more time than it’s actually worth.

Driving across town, keeping notes, and checking sales flyers, especially in the summer heat, to save a few bucks isn’t how most of us would prefer to spend our time. But unless every store has prices listed online (which they don’t), there’s no other way to do it.

Lucky for you, we did some of the heavy lifting. We visited the five main discount grocery stores in the Greenville area: Save-a-Lot/Rite Aid, Aldi, Trader Joe’s, Walmart Neighborhood Market, and Lidl, the newest German grocery store to come stateside. (In case you missed it, the Greenville Lidl opening last month was quite the jam-packed event.)

For our comparison, we chose nine fairly typical grocery items at each stop: eggs, milk, whole-grain bread, bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, prepackaged salmon, avocado, strawberries, and paper towels. In addition, we highlighted one thing that makes each store unique.

By no means is this a 100 percent comprehensive survey, but it does provide a small cross-section that could offer some helpful information. For example, did you know Save-a-Lot sells a 12-ounce wild-caught keta salmon filet for $4.29? (Keta is a milder, lighter-colored salmon than the more popular sockeye.) Or that Trader Joe’s ties for the least expensive paper towels with a recycled eight-pack for $3.99?

There are also small differences among the costs of milk, bread, and eggs at each location, but none consistently rated the least expensive in every item.

Gluten-free offerings are fairly mainstream, except at Save-a-Lot, as are organic items, which means you don’t necessarily have to shop at Whole Foods for specialty dietary preferences.

Ultimately, we found that all five grocery stores are competitive on the basics. But based on customers’ needs and priorities, one may be the standout. We’ll let you be the judge.

 

 

 

 

Interns Jonas Mullins and Peter Knezevich contributed to this report.

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