It’s been awhile since I published my list of 36 ways to save money on groceries, and it appears that the landscape has begun to change.
According to the WSJ, stores have been increasing the prices on their private-label foods faster than the prices of the equivalent national brands. By the numbers, the prices on store brand non-perishables increased 5.3% last year vs. 1.9% for national brands. And for perishables, the numbers were 12% vs. 8%.
The driving force behind these price increases? Oddly enough, it appears that the recession is to blame. Stores apparently wised up to the fact that consumers were increasingly choosing store brands over national brands to save a buck, so they have started narrowing the price gap.
At the same time, they have worked to improve their packaging, expand their product lines, and do a better job of branding their own products in hopes of building customer loyalty. Gone are the days of the plain old black & white packaging.
To be fair, you can still save upwards of 29% using store brands, but the gap is shrinking. But that’s a broad average. There are actually instances in which the store brand is the most expensive product in the category.
For their part, name brand food companies have started offering more coupons and discounts in an attempt to win back customers — in essence, they’re engaged in price targeting, which allows them to sell the same items to different consumers at different prices.
The bottom line here is that you shouldn’t blindly pick the store brand over the national brand. Rather, if you want to get the best deals, you’ll need to pay close attention to the price-per-unit and shop accordingly.