Sneaky Safeway: The mark-ups behind the bargains
A cunning, but annoying, pricing game appears to be afoot at Safeway. The chain seems to be raising its prices on some items, and then offering the items at two for the price of one.
For instance, one-pound bags of pistachios were selling for $6.99 before Christmas. Now they sell for $9.99, but with a deal: buy one, get one free. With the 2-for-1 deal, they really cost $5.00 a pound. But if for some reason you don’t want two bags, they’re $10.00 a pound. Go figure. We go through a lot of pistachios, so it’s a good deal for us, while the 2 for 1 lasts. When it’s over, I go back to Trader Joe’s.
Safeway egg prices have taken an irrational turn. The “family pack” of 18 eggs costs $5.99, or $4.00/dozen, for ordinary Lucerne large eggs that cost $2.49/dozen when you buy a 1-dozen carton!
The reasonable consumer thinks she is saving money when buying a large-size “family” pack, but this is not the case with Safeway’s eggs. However, the guileful store has the family packs 2 for 1, or $2.00/dozen. The real test of Safeway’s guile will be if the price of the family pack goes down after the 2-for-1 offer is discontinued. Eggs keep a fairly long time, so I bought two 18-packs.
Target sells eggs for $1.49/dozen, but they were out of eggs today when I went for cat food, which is .52/can at Target, compared with .65/can at Safeway. The two stores are equally close to my home. It never used to occur to me to buy groceries at Target, but this is a new era. I compare prices of everything, everywhere I go for anything.
Moral of the story: If you can’t add, subtract, multiply, and divide in your head, bring a calculator to the store. Figure out whether a high-volume pack is really cheaper per unit than a regular size–it might be more expensive.
If coupons result in spending more because the store brand is cheaper than the name brand on the coupon, even with the coupon, forget the coupon. Always check to see whether there’s a better buy on another brand. Coupons are usually offered to encourage purchases of more expensive items, or items you don’t ordinarily purchase, which is why I almost never use coupons.
Shopping is tricky these days, but it’s good mental exercise. By the time I’m out of the store, I’m automatically calculating the percentage difference between the sums of two license plate numbers in the parking lot.