Budget or bust at Troy’s grocery stores

Zach Henson


With education expenses causing 70 percent of graduates to leave college in debt, according to CNBC, many look for any way possible to save money. But they still have to purchase food, which poses the question: where is the cheapest place to buy groceries?

While few college students consider groceries “cheap,” the Tropolitan researched the grocery stores in Troy to find the best bargain.

After compiling a 26-item shopping list from comments on a post on the Troy Students Facebook page, a Tropolitan staff member went “shopping,” recording the prices of each item on the list at Walmart, Grocery Advantage, Piggly Wiggly and Publix. The items chosen represented the store’s own brand, if available, or the least expensive comparable item.

After adjusting the prices to reflect a consistent unit size for each item and adding the appropriate 10 percent fee added at the registers of Grocery Advantage and Piggly Wiggly, the lists were tallied. Grocery Advantage was the least expensive with a price total of $48.28. Walmart, with a total of $51.31, and Piggly Wiggly, with a total of $51.73, nearly tied for second place. Publix was the most expensive, totaling $66.68, a 38 percent increase over Grocery Advantage.

Although Grocery Advantage came out the cheapest in the Tropolitan’s study, it seemed to have the smallest selection ,as well. Grocery Advantage’s strength seemed to be in raw products such as meat and produce, whereas their prices on packaged food were not always the lowest.

Piggly Wiggly offered slightly higher, but still competitive  pricing while offering a wider selection. 

Walmart seemed to shine through their own Great Value products. Items such as Great Value peanut butter, jelly, cheese and paper plates seemed to redeem Walmart from higher prices, especially in the produce section. Walmart also offered an even bigger selection, offering specialty items such as almond butter next to the peanut butter and a larger selection of sizing options.

Publix was true to its advertising, offering the highest quality shopping experience. It was the only store where finding an employee to show a customer to an item did not require searching and the only store in which this researcher would have felt confident picking up any piece of produce and placing it in his basket without examining it first.

The bottom line seems to be about what you, as the customer, want to achieve in your shopping. If you simply want to walk out of the store while paying the least amount of money possible, Grocery Advantage seems to be the way to go. If you want to have some extra selection and are willing to pay a smidge more, head to Piggly Wiggly or Walmart. If you want to enjoy shopping and make sure you only have a short wait at the register, try Publix.

Make sure to visit TropNews.com to see the full shopping list, the prices from each store and how they compare.

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