Consumers' Checkbook rates grocery store prices, quality

There was one change with Wegmans. While it still earns very high ratings for quality, you'll pay more for it.

ByNydia Han and Heather Grubola WPVI logo
Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Consumers' Checkbook rates grocery store prices, quality
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The good news is that at most stores you can really save by buying store brands.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- For the first time in four years our friends at Consumers' Checkbook have shopped grocery stores all over the Delaware Valley to compare prices and quality. Those results surprised the Checkbook shoppers so much they went to one popular chain over again to make sure they got it right.

Grocery shopping right now is hitting most of us hard in the wallet.

"Everything went up in the past year, eggs, milk, butter and especially meats," said Keith Martin, of Philadelphia's Wynnefield section.

"They are very, very expensive you got to buy everything on sale and get as much as you can while it's on sale," said Averie Blanks, of Philadelphia's West Oak Lane section.

So Consumer's Checkbook decided it was time to do another shopping comparison of Delaware Valley stores. They shopped a list of about 150 different items that people commonly buy and surveyed consumers about price and quality.

"We found that for the most part, stores here in the Philadelphia area had about the same prices in terms of how they ranked relatively as they did four years ago," said Kevin Brasler, Executive Editor of Consumers' Checkbook.

But there was one change with Wegmans. While it still earns very high ratings for quality, you'll pay more for it.

"According to our survey, (Wegmans) now has pretty high prices, almost as high as Whole Foods, which for many years has been the highest price chain in the area. That was a big shift."

So surprisingly, Checkbook shopped Wegmans again with the same results. Overall, its prices were 18% higher than the average at all other stores Checkbook researched.

On the flip side, prices at Grocery Outlet were about 20% lower than the average. Walmart's prices were 17% lower and Food Lion's were 10% lower.

For a family that spends $250 per week at the supermarket, a 20% price difference could total more than $2,500 a year in savings.

A 10% price difference would total $1,300. But one warning, you may sacrifice some quality and selection. For example, Grocery Outlet carried only 27% of the items on Checkbook's list.

"Here in the Delaware Valley area, there's really no good option anymore if you want high-quality products, high-quality produce and meats, for example, and you want to save money or at least not overpay."

They say the lowest prices came in at Food Lion and Walmart but you may sacrifice some quality for savings. Checkbook recommends shopping at several stores to get all the items on your list.

"They may buy their produce at a place like Whole Foods or Wegmans or one of these others that has really high-quality products. But then for staples and national brand products where quality doesn't matter so much, they end up going to a lower cost place."

The good news is that at most stores you can really save by buying store brands.