Friday, June 22, 2012

Publix vs. Walmart: Which is cheaper?

Over the last couple of weeks, I've heard a radio commercial for the Walmart Challenge: "See for yourself. Bring your last receipt in to Walmart, buy the same items and compare prices. How much could you save?"

Well, I'll be happy to take that challenge!

I'll compare the shopping trip I did at Publix on June 14th.  On that trip, I bought 8 boxes of Mrs. Paul's Parchment Bake tilapia, 2 Dole Frozen Shakers, 2 bottles of Hunt's Ketchup, 2 packages of Hebrew National hot dogs, 2 bottles of Dial body wash, 12 Voskos yogurts, 2 Polly-O mozzarella cheese packages, and one bagel.  For this trip, I spent $12.45See all the details here.

For the comparable shopping trip at Walmart, I'll use the same manufacturer's coupons that I used on my Publix trip; however, I won't be able to use cents-off or dollars-off Publix store coupons or competitor store coupons, since Walmart does not honor these coupons. (See the Walmart coupon policy for more information.)

I'll also use ad matching to get lower prices on items at Walmart when a specific price was mentioned in the Publix ad; however, price matching cannot be used on buy one, get one free items if a specific price is not mentioned.  I assume the "Save up to..." statement in the Publix ad is not a specific price..  (See the Walmart ad matching policy for more information.)

I also had to make two minor substitutions: Walmart did not carry Voskos brand yogurt, so I substituted Oikos brand.  I still took off the Voskos manufacturer's coupon, though.  And my Walmart did not carry fresh bagels in the bakery, so I substituted a doughnut.

So here is that Publix trip done at Walmart:

8 Mrs. Paul's tilapia @ $2.98 = $23.84
- 4 B1G1 Mrs. Paul's or Van De Kamp's Parchment Bake printable
= $11.92

2 Polly-O mozzarella cheese @ $3.00 = $6.00 (price matched - original price $4.28)
- 2 $1 off 1 lb of cheese coupon (Florida only - use zip 33301)
= $4.00 for two, or $2.00 each

2 Dole Fruit Smoothie Frozen Shakers @ $1.50 = $3.00
$1.25/2 Dole Fruit Smoothie Frozen Shakers printable
= $1.75 for two, or 88¢ each

2 Hunt's ketchup @ $1.00 = $2.00

2 Hebrew National franks @ $3.00 = $6.00

12 Oikos yogurt @ $1.00 = $12.00
- 4 $1/3 Voskos Greek Yogurt, exp. 6/30/12 (RP 02/19/12 R)
= $8.00 for twelve, or 66¢ each

2 Dial body wash @ $2.97 = $5.94
$1.00/2 Dial Body Washes coupon
= $4.94 for two, or $2.47 each

1 doughnut @ 58¢

Tax: 36¢

Total spent:  $39.55

So clearly, Walmart lost the Walmart Challenge.  (Click here for an appropriate sound effect.)

To summarize:

Item Publix Walmart
8 tilapia $0.00 $11.92
2 mozzarella cheese $4.00 $4.00
2 smoothies $0.74 $1.75
2 ketchup $0.85 $2.00
2 franks $4.00 $6.00
12 yogurt $4.00 $8.00
2 body wash $2.97 $4.94
1 bagel/donut $0.65 $0.58

Dollars-off coupon -$5.00
Tax $0.24 $0.36

Total $12.45 $39.55

Walmart does have the same or lower regular prices for all of the items listed.  So if you're not going to shop sales or use coupons, you would be better off going to Walmart.  (However, you would be even better off shopping at ALDI, if that store is in your area, as ALDI prices generally beat Walmart's.)

However, shopping sales at your local grocery store and using coupons gives you a great return for the amount of time spent, as you can see from just this one shopping trip.

For more frugal tips, please go to my Linkup Parties page and check out the bloggers listed under Frugal Tips Linkups. There are lots of great ideas on each blog and I'm sure you'll find lots of wonderful tips!

(This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.)


Diana June 22, 2012 at 1:45 PM  

So true! That was my gut feeling, but thanks for putting it on paper (uh, screen?). Publix has great sales and a fabulous coupon policy :)

Elise June 22, 2012 at 3:32 PM  

Wow! What a difference.

Sadly, the nearest Publix to us is an hour away and I've only been there once. I do shop at Aldi a lot though, and that saves a bundle!

J Rodney June 22, 2012 at 4:24 PM  

I am so with you when it comes to using coupons, Publix cannot be beat. Still, Walmart has an awesome price matching policy, which I use to get produce a lot cheaper than at Publix.

I actually just did a study this week on shopping for a party at Walmart, Publix and ALDI. For the same products (mostly store brands), ALDI won, Walmart products cost $33 more, and Publix products cost $39 more...which if I had used the $10/$100 Doris coupon from the paper would make Publix cheaper than at Walmart, but still more expensive than at ALDI.

Robert June 22, 2012 at 4:32 PM  

I always went to Aldi on weeks I had zero time for coupons. Other weeks I did all the deals at Publixs we have moved and now I have Walmart (which I hate that store) but no choice unless I want to drive another hour .

Anonymous,  June 22, 2012 at 6:32 PM  

Publix is the best place to shop!! I ALWAYS beat the Wal-Mart price EVERY time I shop @ Publix!!! Plus, u get GREAT customer service & a clean, friendly, shopping environment!! They also love when you have and use coupons, unlike Wal-Mart!! :)

Anonymous,  June 23, 2012 at 11:03 AM  

I had wondered about this challenge and you cleared it up for me. I do buy other things at Wal-Mart but from now on my grocery store of choice is Publix. It is a pleasure to shop there!

Anonymous,  June 24, 2012 at 9:43 PM  

I am in love with Publix. I use to be a $400 Walmarter and I now I spend less than $100 for way more groceries and personal care items. (My family loves to place orders from my pantry. I even help my family members in college and the foster kid in our family.) I go to Walmart only when the coupon sites tell me too because it is a QP that will be free. Even my monthly medication is free at Publix. This summer has been great to shop Aldi for fruit and vegetables.

CouponsInTheNews July 17, 2012 at 9:20 AM  

Sorry we didn't see your comparison before writing up this article - but thought you might find it interesting nonetheless, that others support your view!

Julie, Wife of a Soldier December 9, 2012 at 4:35 PM  

I love Publix. We just got one right by our house and I just love going there. Been matching up coupons with sales and although I haven't done extra research I feel like I have more going there. People don't believe me when I tell them but oh well.

Anonymous,  April 2, 2013 at 3:01 PM  

I'm sorry, but Walmart is cheaper than Publix--don't need to cherry pick certain items that are BOGO at Publix. Overall, shopping on a weekly basis (consistently) at Walmart will always be cheaper than Publix, period. I am a stickler for comparison shopping and have a xml spreadsheet of prices at Aldi, Walmart, and Publix--overall, Aldi is, hands down, the cheapest, Walmart comes in second, with Publix third. Publix can have BOGOs and in-store coupons every day and all day, but in the end it won't matter because they well make up for it on their other non-BOGO items that are ridiculously over priced--they are called loss-leaders. Common sense tells me that shopping at Publix for over 20 years and spending between $200-$250 a shopping trip compared to shopping at Walmart for over 3 years now and consistently spending between $100-$150 a shopping trip for the same amount of food is all the "comparison" I need.

Unknown April 2, 2013 at 8:18 PM  

@Anonymous - that is exactly the point I made in the article. If you don't want to use coupons and buy only items on sale, then shop at Walmart (or better, ALDI). The regular prices are much cheaper there than at Publix But you can easily beat the prices at ALDI and Walmart by using coupons and buying BOGOs at Publix. I probably haven't bought anything for full price at Publix in years!

Everyone needs to find the shopping strategy that is best for them. If shopping solely at ALDI and Walmart works for you, then great! I'll continue to shop sales and use coupons at Publix, thanks!

Anonymous,  April 19, 2013 at 10:52 PM  

If Publix is so much cheaper than Walmart, then why the hell does Walmart get so much more business and why does Walmart have more poor customers than Publix ?

Anonymous,  June 18, 2013 at 12:32 AM  

I always knew Publix was better Wal Mart. You simply cannot beat Publix with/without sales. The customer service is always great at Publix.

Gary,  June 30, 2013 at 10:00 AM  

I like price as well as anyone, but something not mentioned here is service and store quality. I don't know about your local Wal-Mart, but the one closest to me is awful. Very long checkout lines, poor customer service and having to test several shopping carts just to find one that rolls well. I do not find these problems at Publix. My last trip to Publix for things usually bought was cheaper than my last visit to Wal-Mart. All things considered... Publix wins!

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