You’ve likely seen the Cub vs. Walmart price wars in the past couple of years. Each of the two huge store chains in newspaper ads and TV commercials, claiming to offer lower prices than the other. Even the local media has done their own comparisons, including KARE 11.
Here’s the basic difference between the two stores.
Cub is known as a “high/low” store, meaning that at any given time, some of their products are priced high, while others are deeply discounted to lure you into the store. Those discounted items are the ones you see on the cover of their weekly ad.
These great deals are called “loss leaders” because the store knows they will profit little from them (or rather, lose some profit) because they’re counting on your filling up your cart with their higher priced items to make up the difference.
For example – you may come in because of the super low prices on milk, pasta sauce, some meats and other staples, but while you’re there, you’ll throw in some things to go with them like produce, breads, condiments and other things you realize you need. You end up saving on some items but paying more for others that you could have gotten cheaper elsewhere.
Walmart is known as an “everyday low” store, meaning that they don’t lure you in with gimmicky sales but offer a low price on everything, everyday.
Stores like Cub may beat Walmart’s low prices with their deep discounts, but in the end, it all depends on what you buy and whether you use coupons, etc. that determines your total price. This is why their stores each fight to prove they can beat the other – Cub can if you pile on one saving strategy with another (buying loss leaders, using coupons including the $5 off your purchase of $50 that they mail to homes from time to time), but Walmart also can as well, especially if you use coupons and steer toward the lowest-priced option in a category (including generic).
So what do I do?
I am not 100% loyal to either – or any – store. Rather, I shop at a variety of stores to maximize my savings.
I’m a huge fan of ALDI because the truth is, they beat every other store there is in terms of price. Not in terms of variety – you usually have limited choices when it comes to each product they carry, which is much more limited than the big box stores like Cub and Walmart. But for basic food needs, I’ve found I can get about two thirds of my family’s grocery needs at ALDI for less than anywhere else. And the quality is comparable. (See my post: “Ten Great Buys at ALDI”)
On the site mommysavers.com, Kimberly Danger compares prices between ALDI, Walmart, Cub and Target, and clearly, for the items purchased, the price winner is ALDI at $38.76, versus $46.88 – $53.79 for the other three stores.
I also love shopping at Target and Rainbow Foods.
I love the atmosphere of Target – it’s very organized, youth and young family-oriented, and the prices are great. I print store-specific coupons from their website which help me save a lot. They also offer great coupons for my next purchases that print at the register (known as Catalina coupons). I also like that I’ve never had a problem using a manufacturer’s coupon at Target. At some other stores I’ve had problems multiple times.
At Rainbow Foods, I shop on their double coupon days. Usually their “double double coupon” days, when up to 10 manufacturer’s coupons can be doubled up to $1.00 each. (They’ve also had a few unlimited double coupon days – I keep watching for those!) I’ve saved up to 60-70% on groceries on double coupon days, with some planning ahead of time. (See my post: “Don’t mess with me! I’m shopping at Rainbow Foods on Double Coupon Day”)
I do shop at Cub and Walmart as well for certain items (I like the Walmart brand Parent’s Choice for baby wipes, and there are certain things I can only find at Cub), and when I need a number of items that are priced low at either store.
But the Cub vs. Walmart Grocery War has had no influence on my shopping at either store. Until one of them beats out ALDI’s prices (never going to happen), I’ll be shopping at both equally, and at other stores as well.
For a great article comparing supermarket prices and quality in the Twin Cities area, including Cub, Walmart, Target, Byerly’s, and even Trader Joe’s, I found this one on checkbook.org. It’s a great comparison of many of the stores in our area. Overall, I agree with the findings.