There are five major grocery stores within walking distance from my house: Safeway, King Soopers (Denver’s Kroger), Natural Grocers, Sprouts, and Walmart. I’m always torn at which one would be the best to shop at. Shopping for food, not shopping for wives.
Sprouts is unquestionably my favorite; the staff is the most friendly, and the shelves are neatly stocked with a plethora of interesting products, and the women are the prettiest. But is it the cheapest? Do these auxiliary amenities fool me into thinking I’m getting a better deal than I am? In other words, am I paying for the experience of shopping there and paying a Whole Foods-like premium for the privilege?
The way I went about answering this question was to compare the prices of ten items I regularly buy across these five stores.The items compared were a pound of grassfed ground beef, a dozen free-range omega-3 enriched eggs, Talenti ice cream, avocados, Tazo tea, coffee, raw almonds and cashews, spinach, and couscous.
There are a few intangibles that don’t show up in this data. For instance, King Soopers has the best price for tea but the worst selection. Walmart is quick to run out of a lot of things. Sprouts doesn’t have the best price on avocados, but they offer the largest and healthiest cheaply, essentially offering large ones for the price other stores offer small ones.
My brain is screaming for reasons to defend Sprouts, but the numbers don’t lie: Walmart is the best place to shop for proteins, and Natural Grocers is the best place to go for nuts, while King Soopers has the cheapest prices on average. Apparently, my beloved Sprouts is only a bargain if I need ice cream.