Sure Savings at the Supermarket
There's not much price difference on national brands among stores, but there is one way you can definitely save big.
I've priced a market basket of 9 staple items at two nearby supermarkets — our two large regionals are Hannaford and Shaw's — and share the results here with you. I also invite you to price these items in your area and post the results here on Wise Bread.
The great majority of Americans live within a few miles of competing grocery stores, so you expect their prices to be competititve, and they usually are. But, the savings really add up when you compare the prices of their store brands both to the national brands, and to each other. I've included store brand items in my market basket pricing so you can clearly see the savings. (See also: 5 Things Other Grocery Stores Should Steal From Trader Joe's)
Before we check out the market basket, a word first about store brands, which are also called private labels. They are not offered on all products, but are certainly available on most of the staple items you buy week after week. We know you can save money buying store brands, so the question really is one of quality: Is it comparable to what you get with a brand label?
I have always bought store brands, and with very few exceptions, have found them to be good quality, and a good value. Private labels traditionally have been produced by the name-label companies, usually to the same standards, although occasionally a private label may have its own product specifications. The one store brand item I have found repeatedly disappointing is dish detergent.
Below is the list of market basket items, the name brand, that price at each of the two area chain supermarkets and the price for the store brand at each store. Pricing was done on Saturday, September 13, no sale prices were included.
While the difference between stores on national brands, and even on store brands, isn't terribly significant, the difference at either store between name brands and private labels IS substantial. These are the total market basket costs for the nine items:
Hannaford National Brands
Hannaford Store Brands
Shaw's National Brands
Shaw's Store Brands
The bottom line is clear. You can save approximately 20-25% by buying store brands when they're available. Now, that's a good saving strategy!
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