J and I usually grocery shop at big-box discount chains. The main reason being it saves us money money money! A big bonus also used to be that we lived really close to one. Back then, we would grocery shop 3-4 times a month and our monthly grocery budget never went above $400 for two people (not counting the dining out).
Since June 1st, we moved to a different suburb and no longer live near a big-box discount chain but we still drove the 20 minutes to go grocery shopping back in our old ‘hood but making an effort to buy more than normal so we wouldn’t have to go back as often since it was no longer convenient.
We’re big fans of fresh fruits and veggies and J drinks his almond milk like a beast so this weekend we realized that we had to take a quick trip to the grocery store. Then the dilemma came up – was it worth it to drive the 20 minutes to the closest big-box discount chain when gas is worth $1.43 a liter for a smaller shopping trip?(for my American readers multiply by 3.79 for the per gallon price).
I convinced J to check out our local supermarket this time so we could also compare prices. I want to clarify that when I say local supermarket, I still mean a traditional grocery store chain but much smaller and limited in the range of merchandise compared to a big-box discount chain. These smaller neighborhood supermarkets entice their shoppers with a club card that offers discounts and rewards to make up for higher food prices.
Here’s how J and I felt about our shopping experiences at a local supermarket vs. big-box discount chain
He Said: Local Supermarket, The Good and the Bad
- no line-ups at checkout
- easy parking
- better overall service
- prices are noticeably more expensive on EVERYTHING, even their so-called sale items
- oh yeah, did I mention he didn’t like the prices? (J was becoming very grumpy about it lol)
He Said: Big-box Discount Chain, The Good and the Bad
- crazy busy
- produce quality is lower
- longer drive
- larger selection on merchandise
- dirt cheap price on EVERYTHING!
She Said: Local Supermarket, The Good and the Bad
- overall, presentation is nicer – store is brighter and everything is neatly stocked
- produce look fresher
- it’s not as hectic so I feel much more relaxed shopping
- no samples to taste
- shopping bags are free and they pack your groceries
- prices are higher but the Air Miles points make up for it (kinda)
- checkout lines are much more reasonable in wait time
She Said: Big-box Discount Chain, The Good and the Bad
- a bigger selection of beauty/personal/pharmacy items to choose from
- prices are much cheaper
- the crazy crowds stress me out
- items are often out-of-stock
- checkout lines are as long as 20 minutes sometimes
- store presentation isn’t as nice
- I have to pay 5¢ for a bag and I have to bag my own groceries
- customer service is abysmal at best
As you can see, J prefers to shop at the big-box discount chain simply because it saves money and I prefer to shop at the local supermarket simply because it saves me stress but we are going to compromise by saving bigger trips for the big market and smaller trips for the small market.
Where do you prefer to do your grocery shopping and why?