Many believe we save money when shopping at Trader Joe’s. So what is the difference in price? We shopped at Trader Joe’s last Monday and, using our itemized receipt, I went to see what it would take to purchase the same items (or close to the same items) at our local Price Chopper. A couple things to keep in mind: 1. where the size of the Price Chopper product was not the same size as that purchased at Trader Joe’s, the Price Chopper price was adjusted so that, ounce for ounce, it would be equivalent to what was purchased at Trader Joe’s; 2. there are two columns of prices for Price Chopper, their regular price and the sale price for those items on August 28th, 2009 (provided the customer had a Price Chopper card). 3. I did not take the Trader Joe’s item’s prices with me when I went to find comparable items at Price Chopper. Lastly, it should be mentioned that this does not reflect a “normal” shopping list since no perishables (including frozen or prepared foods) were purchased. The obvious reason is that we didn’t bring a cooler with us as so many seem to do when they shop at Trader Joe’s.
Conclusions: On some items, PC fared better than Trader Joe’s (Trader Joe’s coffee at $7.99 vs. Price Chopper’s Central Market at $4.32; or Trader Joe’s Maple Syrup at $17.99 vs. PC’s maple Syrup at $16.99). But in general, Trader Joe’s prices were better, to a total savings of $35.50 if products were compared at regular price or $26.53 if products were compared to Price Chopper’s sale offerings on that day. Price Chopper especially lags behind in the prices of breakfast cereals (Barbara’s Puffins ounce for ounce at Trader Joe’s $3.49 vs. $7.48 at Price Chopper).
Obviously, this comparison only takes prices into account and not product “quality,” which is subjective. This little “study” also doesn’t take into account other intangeables, such as “shopping experience.” At some future point it would be interesting to include the Capital District’s other supermarket chain, Hannaford, in this comparison as well.