Comparing Amazon Prime grocery prices with supermarket prices?
April 10, 2013 10:04 AM   Subscribe

I like buying things on Amazon prime, but only if they are roughly equal to or less than the cost of something that can be found in a supermarket. Is there some site that I can use to find a reasonable "supermarket price" (not the sale price) for things with brand names (like shaving cream or garbage bags) so that I can make sure I'm not paying well above the market price for something? I'd imagine prices vary by region, but I'm willing to take any suggestions.

* As a note: Most supermarkets have their circulars online, but they mostly contain the products that are on special, not a searchable list of all products in the store. The prices of non-special offered products is something most supermarkets don't want you to know, so it's more likely that some sort of third party or community would offer this information rather than a supermarket chain.
posted by Feel the beat of the rhythm of the night to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Do any of the supermarkets in your area deliver, or offer online shopping for curbside pick-up? Three of my local grocery stores deliver, so I usually check their websites for prices. They all allow browsing as a "guest", but other stores may require an account.
posted by amarynth at 10:11 AM on April 10, 2013

I've done some price checking using Peapod before. I assume the prices are perhaps a bit inflated since it's a delivery service (though there's a fee for delivery), but it might help get you a ballpark.
posted by hungrybruno at 10:13 AM on April 10, 2013

I want to know how much money I'd be losing or gaining by not getting up off my lazy ass and going to the store, so the home delivery Peapod prices don't work for that, but thank you very much for answering just the same!
posted by Feel the beat of the rhythm of the night at 10:17 AM on April 10, 2013

I know some people--serious couponers--who maintain spreadsheets of all the products they routinely buy and how much they were at last purchase. You can just start filling that in off your receipts, and it can make budgeting easier, in general. Also helpful for comparing between grocery stores.
posted by Sequence at 10:20 AM on April 10, 2013

Safeway has an online shopping mechanism. I use it to buy my groceries (which are delivered) but you could use it for pricing.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:21 AM on April 10, 2013

I'm trying to do the same thing -- and have sometimes had lucking finding the same item listed on both Target's website & Amazon. That mostly works for me (for stuff like detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, etc) 'cause that's stuff I actually would be purchasing at Target, not my supermarket.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:26 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not sure about Peapod specifically, but there are a couple stores in my area that advertise their home delivery with the concept that prices (regular and sale) are exactly the same online and in-store, the only difference is the small delivery fee. So perhaps Peapod or other delivery (Safeway, Shoprite, or whatever is in your local area) would be useful after all.
posted by trivia genius at 10:55 AM on April 10, 2013

Every few years I go into a fit of researching, trying to decide if home delivery of groceries makes economic sense for our family, including looking into Amazon prices. What I have found that is that, generally speaking, looking at on-line grocery store websites can't give you an accurate number for comparing between brick and mortar shopping, and website shopping. The prices are not the same as when you walk into a grocery store in person. For instance, the regular price on a delivered bottle of soda is usually automatically jacked up from the regular price in the store, presumably because it is big and heavy? I found this out by going to my usual grocery store, paying attention to prices on a few key food items, and then coming home and checking the on-line prices in the same grocery store's delivery service. It was a pain in the butt and time consuming, and not scientifically accurate. Just because I figured out the price difference on peanut butter prices, didn't mean that necessarily applied to jelly prices. It is a hard thing to pin down, exactly how much more are you paying for the convenience of sitting-on-your-butt shopping?
posted by molasses at 10:56 AM on April 10, 2013

Wow, I had no idea that some stores charged different prices based on how you shop! FWIW, I know that where we shop, the prices are the same online and in-store, so that's what I use to compare Amazon's stuff.
posted by amarynth at 11:14 AM on April 10, 2013

I work pretty hard at saving money on the margins and I am an amazon prime member and I have completely steered clear of their subscribe and save for a number of reasons.

First, the items that have the best deals on Amazon are also the items that have the best deals at CVS and Walgreens. So the savings are pretty minimal and the local stores are a bit better if you use a Just-In-Time inventory instead of being a stockpiler (I use JIT because I have debt so the savings from stockpiling end up being a wash at best or even a loss due to interest on my debt. Stockpiling also requires space).

Second, A major factor I use in saving money is that I walk to pick up groceries so I am limited by what I can carry. This is pretty powerful at stopping me from a spending frenzy. It is also good for fitness. This works if you live in a walkable city (I do and I wouldn't live any other way).

Third, Amazon requires credit card use. Personally, I don't like using credit cards for groceries because it doesn't really feel like real spending and can get out of hand. I do not want my purchasing to be completely frictionless. The friction moment is a good point for reassessing prices, needs and strategies for the next time. Subscribing takes that feedback/learning moment away and is IMHO a very bad thing.

Fourth, Coupons. If you buy brand names (which is what Amazon carries), there are almost always coupons in your Sunday paper for regular consumables that you would subscribe to on Amazon. Coupon savings run about 5-10%. Even better though is to use generic brands (which Amazon doesn't have). Generic brand savings are about 30-50% (be warned though that the toilet paper can be pretty 1970s soviet stuff).

The ultimate shopping strategy for me involves reading all the flyers for the local store and then walking over to Walmart and getting price matches on the stuff that is sale on other stores and using coupons. Then I hit up other stores for the things that are not covered by the Walmart price match during evening strolls. I figure my savings are somewhere in the range of 30-40% overall.

I don't do the extreme couponing stuff because I found it wasn't worth the effort. It is just too much of a cognitive drain to try and solve the travelling salesman problem for every single shop. Instead I go for moderate couponing ( i clip them all and put them in plastic large envelope size holder by category - I use maybe 1 in 40 that I clip but I clip almost all of them just in case), almost no stockpiling (except frozen pizza and cola), and simple price watching and price matching.
posted by srboisvert at 11:47 AM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

And more directly to your question:

Krazy Coupon Lady keeps stock up price list that features 3 month and 6 month lows on products organized by category. The page I found is a bit out of date but I know they have more recent version but I can't find it at the moment.
posted by srboisvert at 1:34 PM on April 10, 2013

I have a spreadsheet of least cost per item (and location) for all the things we buy frequently. We cook 90% of our meals at home, so we buy lots of veggies, some meat, along with normal non-grocery consumables. We don't buy a lot of processed food.

For what it's worth, our list is almost 100% made up of Costco, our local produce market and Trader Joes. None of the three local grocery chains is generally price competitive (unless items are specifically on sale) with those three stores. (Fresh & Easy is competitive, but they may be closing soon).
posted by cnc at 1:41 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite] They already ship (many times for free) non-perishable items. They have branched into perishables in some markets.
posted by Houstonian at 2:26 PM on April 10, 2013

I know pricing can be regional, but our local-ish supermarket chain, Hannaford, allows you to check prices of any item in the store on their website.

Just type in a product name in the search box (or even just an item, like "cheese"). You'll need to pick a specific store (so choose somewhere it's a little more expensive to live) but once you do you can look at the price of pretty much any item in the store.
posted by anastasiav at 8:49 AM on April 11, 2013

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