Author Topic: Grocery Store Price Comparison App  (Read 675 times)

tdubs

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Grocery Store Price Comparison App
« on: September 16, 2018, 07:01:04 AM »
Hello,

New member posting here. I am very interested in investing threads, but this one is a basic one about getting the best price on groceries.

Anyone know of an app that would allow me to keep track of the prices of basic grocery items at various stores? I'm imagining it would allow me to list, say, the price of a dozen eggs or a half gallon of milk at Costco, Aldis, Safeway, Walmart etc. The apps I have seen seem to focus more on advertising sale items.

I was imagining something like a spreadsheet (but searchable and condensable for the items I needed on any particular day), but also something that would alert me to sale items in stories nearby. I would enter in my own data for cost of particular items I use so that I'd know which store to visit. I also thought the app would crowdsource the data as other app users could enter items they buy. Stores would be limited by zip code and each store would have a list customers would revise as prices changed.

Thanks.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2018, 07:19:12 AM by tdubs »

fuzzy math

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Re: Grocery Store Price Comparison App
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2018, 07:43:58 AM »
Lots of the couponing blogs run weekly posts about what's on sale and what's actually a good deal.

https://queenbeecoupons.com/costco-price-list/
Here's one with a Costco price list. She lives in ID, so it's mainly Pacific Northwest stores she lists for. Safeway is weird b/c they run different ads in different areas. I doubt you'll find a list of regular prices because most stores walk around marking UP items to a higher price regularly, then marking them to a regular point, then marking down for a sale.

I think you'd have to do some of the leg work yourself, depending on the mix of your local stores.  I do not know of an app. Lots of people use a price book but I know it's an outdated concept. I just made a point to memorize everything.

Also eggs and milk are 2 of the things that vary most by state. Eggs are much cheaper in agricultural areas, and milk prices are determined by state. When I lived in VA, minimum milk price was $4 a gallon a few years ago. Everywhere else I've lived is about $2.50

tdubs

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Re: Grocery Store Price Comparison App
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2018, 10:06:23 AM »
Yeah, this example you provide is what I have found so far, too. A few people have posted up spreadsheets of what they find.

I was imagining legwork being done by many posted to a common spreadsheet.

fuzzy math

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Re: Grocery Store Price Comparison App
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2018, 12:35:51 PM »
The prudent homemaker blog has her stock up points listed on her blog. It just varies so much by store and region.

Perhaps it would be easier for you to start with the assumption that everything is cheapest at Aldi and work towards seeing what items are worth disproving? I have found in 95% of situations Aldi will be cheaper. The exceptions are weekly grocery ad loss leaders. I find cheese and butter to be expensive at Aldi. I will buy it elsewhere. I buy toilet paper and paper towels, and cooking oils at Costco/SAMs. The rest I get at Aldi because if I follow my 95% rule I come out ahead 95% of the time. The additional headache of figuring out price per unit at a regular grocery store amongst 29 mayonnaise jars frequently isn't worth the potential $0.30 savings, especially when figuring in the time span and the drive to go to another store.

Here are a couple blogs that appear to have some pricing for Aldi. Start there perhaps?

https://www.pocketyourdollars.com/category/lists-with-coupon-match-ups/aldi-weekly-deals/

https://www.simplemost.com/heres-ultimate-price-comparison-chart-target-walmart-aldi/

tdubs

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Re: Grocery Store Price Comparison App
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2018, 01:14:41 PM »
The prudent homemaker blog has her stock up points listed on her blog. It just varies so much by store and region.

Perhaps it would be easier for you to start with the assumption that everything is cheapest at Aldi and work towards seeing what items are worth disproving? I have found in 95% of situations Aldi will be cheaper. The exceptions are weekly grocery ad loss leaders. I find cheese and butter to be expensive at Aldi. I will buy it elsewhere. I buy toilet paper and paper towels, and cooking oils at Costco/SAMs. The rest I get at Aldi because if I follow my 95% rule I come out ahead 95% of the time. The additional headache of figuring out price per unit at a regular grocery store amongst 29 mayonnaise jars frequently isn't worth the potential $0.30 savings, especially when figuring in the time span and the drive to go to another store.

Here are a couple blogs that appear to have some pricing for Aldi. Start there perhaps?

https://www.pocketyourdollars.com/category/lists-with-coupon-match-ups/aldi-weekly-deals/

https://www.simplemost.com/heres-ultimate-price-comparison-chart-target-walmart-aldi/

Thanks, both are very useful, especially the sales at Aldis.

I hate to admit it, but my own spreadsheet finds Walmart nuking the competition in several areas. Not so much on produce, but with dairy and canned goods, Aldi's does not compete with Walmart. Costco seems better for OTC items. It would certainly save effort if Aldi's did what you say, but I'm not finding an across-the-board advantage.

MrsPete

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Re: Grocery Store Price Comparison App
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2018, 03:19:19 PM »
Have you ever read The Frugal Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn?  It was popular about the time I was first married and was just setting up housekeeping.  Today it'd be somewhat "out of date", but the concepts are still worthwhile. 

Anyway, in Book 1 (or the first portion of her "Complete Frugal Gazette", which combines the three books into one) she discusses EXACTLY this topic ... except she did it on paper.  'Cause 1990.  I suggest you take a look at this book -- this is one of her best articles /best ideas. 


tdubs

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Re: Grocery Store Price Comparison App
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2018, 04:07:58 PM »
Have you ever read The Frugal Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn?  It was popular about the time I was first married and was just setting up housekeeping.  Today it'd be somewhat "out of date", but the concepts are still worthwhile. 

Anyway, in Book 1 (or the first portion of her "Complete Frugal Gazette", which combines the three books into one) she discusses EXACTLY this topic ... except she did it on paper.  'Cause 1990.  I suggest you take a look at this book -- this is one of her best articles /best ideas.

"The Tightwad Gazette!" I had a couple volumes next to my night stand for a while. Though I have to admit, she did stuff I just did not have time for.

I remember her testing out the theory that leaving soap out dry for a while would make it last longer in the shower. Classic stuff.

chemistk

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Re: Grocery Store Price Comparison App
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2018, 06:02:20 AM »
It would be close to impossible to get an accurate enough crowdsourced dataset to make something like this widely applicable.

As others have pointed out, there are just too many regional differences to accurately get a good picture. The most unpredictable items end up being produce, meat, and dairy - much of it is still sourced locally enough that the next town over could have completely different prices on eggs despite being the same store chain. Each store within a chain also has its own individualized "mix" of items that it carries - local preferences that drive the presence of one item in one store and the lack of that item in another. Walmart, Kroger, Publix, etc. are more standardized than other stores but each still has its own custom mix.

It's just something that takes time and attention to detail. You become aware of the general prices for staples and common items between stores in your region - you may not shop at every store but it's worthwhile to walk through each one every few months and write down (or mentally record) the prices for your staples.

Oddly enough, Target's Market Pantry brand has been cheaper than our local Aldi for a whole host of staples in our area. They even compete with Warehouse store prices, and in a few categories they are cheaper. But, my parents have not observed the same prices in their region at Target - so, your regional mileage may vary.

The other thing that is hard to factor is loyalty coupons. No, not the "4/$12 when you buy 4 Coke 12 Pack", or the weekly Smartsource Coupons. I'm talking about the actual, real deal ones. Our local Giant issues (on occasion) some killer coupons. Recently I had a $10 off $40 of produce, a $6 off $25 of fresh meat and poultry, and a $5 off your purchase of $80. They'll also issue about 4 or 5 coupons for free items a month. The other stores tend to do the same - and in those situations it really obfuscates the benefit of visiting certain stores over others.

kite

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Re: Grocery Store Price Comparison App
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2018, 03:02:07 PM »
The question intrigued me because I work in IT in the financial sector.  What you are looking for is a market-data feed.  But instead of trying to capture the buy/sell price of stocks, bonds and other investment products, you want the prices of tangible grocery products. 
Good luck with that one.
On the one hand, I'm pretty certain department managers at store X are keeping tabs on what store Y and Z are charging for the same products so that they can remain competitive and move their own inventory.  But I don't think it is in their best interests to give away their opposition research.  Nor do you need them (or anyone else) to do your leg work.  You are going to purchase only a finite number of products.  You already have a printed list of what you buy and how much you paid.  It's your receipt. Stick that in the front of a small notebook.  In the notebook, create a page or two for each store where it is already reasonable for you to shop. (Aldi, WholePayCheck, CostMore, SonOfSamsClub, TraderJoe, AsianMarket, and so on) When the weekly circulars show up and stuff your mailbox, compare the price in the circulars for cheese doodles.  Whichever one is lowest is where you are going to buy your cheese doodles, so put cheese doodles down on the appropriate store's page, with the target price.  Do the same for beef jerky, scooby snacks, sugary cereal with multi-color marshmallows, circus peanuts, etc.  No judgement here,  eat what you want.  Very quickly, you'll have a list for each of your local stores.  Keep the notebook in your canvas grocery bag so that whatever store you are in, you have that store's list....because you'll have every store's list.  And if you see Little Debbie Snack Cakes at Aldi for even less than what you thought they were going to be at ShopRite, you buy them and note it in your little notebook.   And you repeat this for all the things you buy.  And thus, you'll have your very own, custom Price-Book.

It is not hard, or time consuming.  Some commenters think the price-book is outdated. If a person loves spreadsheets, I don't want to take away their joy.  But I find a spreadsheet on a smartphone to be unwieldy when in a store.  The little notebook and pen works just fine. And there are new pages, if I need to write something else.   I'm in IT, if I thought an electronic version of this would be better for our needs, I'd be all over it.  But I don't find that necessary because we buy such a small number of items on a regular basis, that eventually we memorize the price and instantly recognize a good one versus a not-so-good price.   It so happens that most of our best price options for foods don't have printed advertisements.  These farmers markets and ethnic grocers don't need to advertise or offer gimmicks or sales to get customers in the door.   If the big chains are going to beat them on price for a particular sale, they are going to feature the loss leader prominently in advertising.  The chain store's hope is that you'll make up for their loss buy overpaying for cheese doodles & scooby snacks and needing something from their prepared foods section.  A Price Book is your best insurance against that trap.     

MrsPete

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Re: Grocery Store Price Comparison App
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2018, 03:40:04 PM »
... But I don't find that necessary because we buy such a small number of items on a regular basis, that eventually we memorize the price and instantly recognize a good one versus a not-so-good price...
Regardless of HOW you monitor /record prices, this is your ultimate goal:  to recognize the best prices.  That is, to know that the "best price" for peanut butter is X, so when you see it for that "best price", you pick up four jars.  You're not swayed by BOGOF sales or coupons ... you KNOW what "best price" or "goal price" is.