Where Walmart gets it wrong: The comparison-shopping challenge
The Sunday Chicago Tribune has an interesting ad (Sec. 1, Page 7 - or click to zoom) comparing an identical shopping list at Walmart and at Jewel. They compare identical items' prices at both stores, then note that the Walmart list is $14.43 cheaper than Jewel. In a big, red circle, the ad notes "SHE SAVED 13%!"
I always shake my head when I see comparisons like these, as they're incredibly misleading. Good shoppers know that the same items' prices can fluctuate wildly, and because there are both good and bad times to buy the same item, any store that has these items currently on the higher end of the high/low price cycle is going to appear to "lose" the challenge. These compare-the-list challenges also always assume the shopper wants to buy this list of items this week, regardless of price.
So, let's break it down. Quite a few items on this list should not have been bought at all at these prices if the shopper was aiming to save the most:
|Item||Walmart price||Jewel-Osco price||Sale Price you should pay, post-coupon||Notes|
|Tide Laundry Detergent - 100fl.oz.||$11.97||$11.99||$2.99 or less for 50-ounce bottles||It's usually cheaper to buy two 50-ounce bottles during a sale, with coupons, than it is to buy that large bottle. Then, STOCK UP! In Nov. 2011, these Tides were $1.93 after a CVS deal. In Sept. 2011, 56oz. Tide was $2.99 after a coupon stack.|
Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Snack Crackers - 30oz.
|$6.98||$7.69||.99 each for 7.2oz. bags (Buying five would cost $4.95)||It's tough to find Goldfish coupons, but the small bags go on sale for .99 regularly. You're almost always better off buying many small bags, on sale, than ever buying that big carton of Goldfish. The Baby Cheddar Goldfish have 7.2oz. of crackers in side. Buying five bags would cost $4.95 and give you 36 ounces of Goldfish. If there are any coupons, you'll do even better.|
|Welch's 100% Grape Juice 64oz.||$3.78||$4.49||$1.49||I would NEVER buy this product at more than $2 per bottle. It goes on sale for $1.99 pretty regularly, and there are often $1-off-2 coupons available to drop that to a nice $1.49.|
|Capri-Sun Lemonade Juice Drinks 10-6fl oz.||$2.48||$2.49||$1.79||With recent "Buy 2 Get 1 Free" coupons available, you could do even better here, but these do go on sale for $1.79 regularly.|
Quaker Oats Quick - 1 Minute - 42oz.
|$4.12||$4.69||$2.99||Again, both of these stores' current prices are very high. It's often cheaper to buy the boxes of individual Quaker packets, and there are Quaker coupons fairly often too.|
Jif Creamy Peanut Butter - 40oz.
|$6.44||$6.79||$2 per 16oz. jar (buying three jars would cost $6, but give you 48 ounces of peanut butter)||This is another situation where buying smaller jars would save you more money, especially during a coupon deal. Don't be brand-specific, and, when the sales are crazy-good, stock up. Meijer had 16oz. Skippy for less than .05 per 16oz. jar in Sept. 2011!|
|Barilla Plus Penne Pasta, 14.5oz.||$2.12 (shopper bought two)||$2.39 (shopper bought 2)||$1.29||The Barilla Plus doesn't drop to .99 as often as the other Barilla varieties, but anything over $1.50 for this is just ridiculously high.|
|Aunt Jemima Original Pancake and Waffle Mix - 32oz.||$2.54 (shopper bought two)||$2.50 (shopper bought 2)||$1.99||This product is involved in Jewel's "Buy 10, Save $5" instant-savings sales on occasion, and I've never paid more than $2 per box for it. $1.50 is an even better price, and we do see that on occasion.|
|Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner - 14oz.||$2.25||$2.29||$1.67||You can get these for less than $1.50 too if there are coupons involved, but just last month in April, Walgreens had them on sale 3-for-$5, or $1.67 each.|
|Country Time Pink Lemonade Drink Mix 19oz.||$2.50||$2.99||$1.99||As summer approaches, look for coupons for this to arrive in the inserts too, but I would not pay more than $2 per canister.|
|Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty 75 sq. ft.||$5.38||$6.49||$1.49||Jewel just had this on sale last week for $2.99! With a $1.50 printable coupon, it was $1.49. Both of these prices are ridiculously high.|
|Hefty 35qt. Freezer Bags 35ct.||$2.98||$4.79||$1.99||These go on sale, and there are coupons out for them regularly. I think even $1.99 is on the higher end of what I'd pay here, but it's still much better than paying either of the comparison prices.|
|General Mills Chocolate Cheerios Cereal - 11.25oz.||$2.98||$3.79||$1.49||Dominick's has had these on sale not long ago for $1.99 per box. With a $1-off-2 printable, they were $1.49.|
|Old El Paso Hard & Soft Taco Dinner Kit 11.4oz.||$2.50||$1.79||$1.29||Jewel's pre-coupon price is actually pretty good here. But, if it had been purchased with a $1-off-2 coupon earlier this year, the price could have dropped by another .50.|
|Thomas' Plain Mini Bagels 12ct.||$2.98||$4.69||$2.99||These go on sale for $2.99 fairly often, so Walmart's price here is fair. There are also not a lot of coupons out for these.|
|Kellogg's Special K Strawberry Fruit Crisps 10ct.||$2.78||$3.49||$1.99||When these are on sale, they're still kind of high (to me) at $2.49. But with a $1-off-2, you could drop these to a better $1.99. CVS has had Special K items involved in their "Spend $30, Get $10" past sales too -- if I really wanted these, I'd stock up and involve them in a promo like that.|
|Quaker Chewy Dipps Chocolate Chip Granola Bars - 6ct.||$2.19||$2.25||$1.49||These go on sale for $1.99 often, and with a $1-off-2 coupon, the price gets even better.|
|Snyder's of Hanover All Natural Pretzels||$2.68||$3.00||$1.99||When these go on sale for $2.49, use a $1-off-2 coupon and pick them up for $1.99. Jewel also has a "Spend $15, Save $5" SavingStar promotion running right now on Snyder's of Hanover. Even with no coupons, the shopper could have bought five boxes at Jewel and dropped the total to $10, or $2 each.|
|Pompeian Balsamic Vinegar 16fl. oz.||$2.72||$3.69||$1.49||Mejier often has 50% off sales on Pompeian products. While this usually sells for $2.99 at Meijer, during that sale, it's $1.49.|
|Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 32oz.||$8.72||$11.39||$2.99 for 16oz. (buying two would cost $5.98)||Again, Meijer has Pompeian on sale 50% off regularly. When there are coupons available, go with the smaller bottles here to save the most. The 16oz. bottle is regularly $5.99, but at 50% off, it's $2.99. As recently as February
of this year, a $3 printable coupon made it FREE! During another sale, Pompeian was totally FREE after a store and manufacturer coupon stack at Meijer. But in the absence of a crazy sale, $2.99 for 16oz. is a good price.
|Kraft 100% Parmesan Grated Cheese, 8oz.||$3.50||$3.99||$2.99||This is rarely super-cheap, but $2.99 is better. I have gotten better deals lately buying fresh Parmesan too, if you're not brand-specific. I recently had an ecoupon for a bag of Dominick's Lucerne brand of 8oz. fresh Paremesan cheese shreds that dropped the price to $1.99.|
|Kraft Philadelphia Regular Cream Cheese Spread 12oz.||$3.58||$4.69||$1.99 for 8oz. (buying two would cost $3.98 but give you more cheese.)||When the 8oz. sizes are on sale for $1.99, it's a much better per-ounce price. For this example, if we bought two on sale for $1.99, we would pay $3.98, but we'd have 16 ounces of cheese. That's about .25 per ounce versus Walmart's price of about .30 per ounce.|
|TOTALS:||$92.82||$107.25||$62.58||By shopping during sales with coupons, this shopper could have potentially saved $30.24 over the Walmart total and $44.67 over the Jewel-Osco total. That's about 33% savings over the Walmart total, and about 41% over the Jewel-Osco savings. And, in the cases of some of these products, the shopper would have brought home larger quantities of the same items for less money.|