I have been doing the majority of my grocery shopping at Market Basket for years now. The grocery store closest to me, Johnnie’s Foodmaster, was never that great and it had been going downhill for years before it was sold to Whole Foods. So I haven’t minded a few extra minutes and driving by 2 other grocery stores on my way to Market Basket. But this summer, the Market Basket ersatz shutdown forced me to change my grocery shopping habits temporarily. I’m now back to Market Basket full time but I used the Market Basket downtime to shop different grocery stores and do some comparisons.
I kept track of my purchases at the 3 major competitors and when Market Basket came back online (so to speak), I checked their prices on the same items. I ended up with a pretty full spreadsheet but it still had a number of holes. So this morning, I ran around to the 4 stores to plug as many of those holes as I could. The following is a compilation of the comparative data I collected. Yep, this is the kind of thing that only an engineer would apply to grocery shopping.
I’m going to jump to the price results because most people reading this would be interested in that first and foremost. I have totaled a list of 34 grocery items of various types that were fairly easy to compare across the various stores. Market Basket had all 34 items and I had prices for all of them. Stop & Shop, Hannaford, and Shaw’s all were missing a few of the items or I goofed on getting prices for things so in those cases, I substituted an average price from the other 3 stores. In the case of Stop & Shop, they still do a loyalty card for savings which effectively means 2 different result sets from one shopping trip so I treated those results as different (more on that below). And for Shaw’s, there were a number of sale items that changed things considerably so I’ve treated those results as different too (again, more on that below.) Here are the results:
Market Basket: $88.11
Shaw’s normal prices: $108.91
Shaw’s with sale prices: $103.21
Stop & Shop without card: $114.75
Stop & Shop with card: $105.01
And here’s the full detail about how I got to those total prices: grocery2014.numbers
Market Basket is the clear winner and Stop & Shop without a card is the easy loser coming in $26.64 higher. That’s 30% higher than Market Basket! And to put that in perspective, if you were to switch from Stop & Shop without a card to Market Basket and buy these same items for 52 weeks straight, you’d save $1385.28 in the course of a year. Even Stop & Shop with a card is 19% higher than Market Basket with a 52 week difference of $878.80. The prices tell a lot of the story, but there’s a lot more to consider when grocery shopping and those things may vary for different people.