Drugstore shopping could be breaking your budget

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011 By

Rite-Aid

Shopping at a pharmacy instead of a grocery store could cost you hundreds a month. Image: Flickr / The Consumerist / CC-BY

In many city centers and large neighborhoods, the local drugstore is one of the few sources of groceries. If these stores are your only source of groceries, or even where you stop just once in a while, shopping at a drugstore could be killing your budget.

The price comparison

ConsumerWorld undertook a one-to-one price comparison of a variety of grocery items available in both grocery and drug stores. A can of Maxwell House coffee varied in price from $2.99 to $6.99, depending on the location. The full market basket of goods ranged in price from $68.55 to $83.56 at grocery stores, while drug stores ranged from $98.12 to $107.96. This shows the most expensive grocery store is still less expensive than the cheapest drugstore. Non-food items generally run between $.50 and $1 more per item in drugstores.

Paying for convenience

Drugstores and pharmacies are able to charge a premium for the products on their shelves for one simple reason: convenience. The convenience of a drugstore is similar to the convenience of a gas station. Smaller stores mean it is quick and easy to walk in, grab a few items, and get out quickly. This convenience, however, also usually means the stores pay higher rent. These stores also use their status as the source for prescriptions as a way to bring customers in.

How to save extra cash

Though drugstores are a more expensive place to purchase groceries, there are ways to save money by shopping at a drugstore. First, most drugstores offer at least one “loss-leader” item each week. Loss leaders are items sold for below the cost the store gets them at in order to get people in the store. Milk and eggs are often loss leader items. Secondly, sales at drugstores will often bring prices more in-line with what they may be at retail grocery stores. The best bet for your budget is to take the extra time and effort to shop at a grocery store rather than a drugstore.

Sources

MSNBC
Daily Finance
Consumer World (PDF)

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