Wal-Mart grocery savings widen against Target, narrow for Publix

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 263 views 

Winning on everyday low prices is a major focus for Walmart’s grocery business and the level of competition from major players like Publix, Kroger, Target, Dollar General and Aldi continues to heat up.

Raymond James & Associates’ monthly grocery comparison report for October found $5.72 in savings realized on a full basket of branded items purchased at Walmart compared to the same items bought at Target. The savings widened from 98 cents saved on the same items purchased in September. However, the basket savings decreased from $8.72 reported in October 2014.

Walmart executives, not unlike execs with other grocery store operators, monitor competitor prices in all of the markets they operate. The retailer also offers ad match against its competitors sales prices and the Savings Catcher app will automatically check the sale prices on branded grocery items within the local area.

The Raymond James report was based on shopping trips in the Florida market. Publix, a full-service grocer like Kroger, has a much wider price spread against Walmart prices. In the report, Publix shoppers would have paid $219.96 for the same basket of goods that cost $180.34 at Walmart, a savings of $39.62. The price gap narrowed slightly from the prior month, with $34.35 in savings recorded from the same month last year.

One other aspect examined in the report is the savings Walmart shoppers get when they chose private label over branded products. Private labels sold at Walmart include Great Value, Equate and Sam’s Choice. The savings between Walmart’s branded and private label basket contracted 0.48% in October from the prior month. The private label basket cost $160.89 in October, 24% less that $211.73 spent on the branded items basket at Walmart.

During the past year the branded baskets costs of goods rose at all three of retailers – Target up 1.07%, Walmart up 2.46%, and Publix up 4.56%. Part of the reason the branded prices are higher overall is from escalating meat and dairy prices. The 87 items in the branded basket include products like Egglands Best Large Grade A eggs that have more than doubled in price to $4.54 per dozen in recent months. Bird flu concerns have reduced the number of laying hens, which has put pressure on egg prices.

The cost of a pint of Breyers All Natural Vanilla Ice Cream has risen 96 cents to $3.94 in recent months. Kraft Singles American Cheese Slices (16 count) are 99 cents more expensive in October than earlier this year. Oscar Mayer Bacon (16 ounce package) has risen more than $1 to $5.88.

The Raymond James report does not factor in savings if a shopper uses Walmart’s Savings Catcher app. The City Wire has used the Savings Catcher app 44 times in the past year generating $42.33 in savings which can be applied to an e-gift card. 

The most commonly purchased items which have generated Savings Catcher refunds include branded breakfast cereals such as Cheerios and Frosted Mini Wheats which are routinely priced lower at Dollar General. Frito Lay chips such as Fritos and Cheetos often are 50 cents per bag cheaper at Dollar General than at Walmart. The 12-packs of Diet Dr. Pepper are also most often priced lower at Fred’s Dollar Store and Dollar General, which also generate Savings Catcher refunds.

Dannon Oikos Yogurt 4-packs routinely show up with lower prices at Target, generating a 47-cents credit to Savings Catcher several times in the past few months.

Non-food consumables like Tide detergent and Downy Ulta Concentrated Fabric Softener are often on sale at Walmart competitors. The two staples purchased at Walmart routinely generate Savings Catcher refunds of roughly 75 cents and 55 cents, respectively.

Walmart revamped its Savings Catcher program earlier this year to eliminate fresh produce, meat and bakery items from the eligible matches with competitors. The retailer also scaled back the competitors it measures against in this program, moving away from price comparisons with Walgreen’s, CVS Pharmacy and other convenience type stores that might also sell grocery items.