Friday, September 7, 2012

Store brands faceoff: Walmart vs. Publix

Last week, I did something, couponing-wise, that I had never done before: I used a Target Market Pantry cheese coupon when I purchased Publix brand cheese.

I didn't realize you could do this, but according to the Publix Coupon Policy, you can use a competitor store's house brand coupon for a Publix brand item of the same type and size.  Target is a competitor to my local Publix store; check with your local store before using Target coupons there.

In my area, Walmart has lower-priced house brands than Publix.  Knowing that, I started wondering: if I used Target coupons on Publix house brands, would they be cheaper than Walmart's?

Actually, the cheapest house brands in my area are at ALDI.  But I know not everyone is lucky enough to have ALDI in their area.  So I decided to do the comparison with Walmart, since most people have a Walmart within driving distance.

To test this out, last week I went through the Target printable coupons and wrote down the values of Market Pantry and Archer Farms coupons that were listed at the time.  Those coupons may not be there now.   

Then I went shopping at Walmart and Publix, looking for store brand items that met the size requirements of the coupon and were similar at both stores. If I couldn't find the same size house brand at both stores, or I couldn't find a house brand product at one store, I took the coupon off the list. My comparisons are per item, but of course if you were really using the coupons, you would need to buy two or three of some of the items.

Here are the coupons for which I found virtually identical products at both Walmart and Publix.  
  • 25¢ off condensed soup, 10.5 oz + (actually 75¢/3)
  • 50¢ off cheese, 5 oz + ($1/2)
  • $1.00 off tomato sauce, 24 oz + and pasta, 16 oz +
  • 50¢ off chewy granola bars ($1/2)
  • 50¢ off apple juice ($1/2)
  • $1.00 off frozen seafood item, 12-24 oz 
  • $1.00 off frozen fruit
Here is a spreadsheet of my results.

I found that for two items (the tomato sauce/pasta and frozen fruit), the strategy of using Target coupons at Publix would be slightly cheaper than buying the item at Walmart.

One item - the condensed soup - was a tie.

And for four items - the cheese, granola bars, apple juice, and seafood - it would be cheaper to buy it at Walmart.   The apple juice was still over $1.00 cheaper at Walmart, for instance.

So I can't recommend buying full-priced house brands at Publix and using Target coupons as a method to save the most money.   I still think the best way to get the lowest grocery bill is to buy on-sale name brand items at Publix (or the high-priced supermarket in your area) with manufacturer's and store coupons, and then to go to Walmart or ALDI to buy house brand items that you need that week.

And if the Publix store brand item goes on sale, using a Target store coupon might make it cheaper than the product at Walmart.  However, other than dairy items, I rarely see Publix store brand items on sale.

What do you think?  Have you tried this comparison before?  Which store is cheaper for you?  Leave a comment below!

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


JRFrugalMom and Family September 7, 2012 at 12:30 PM  

I actually used the $1/2 Market Pantry Refrigerated juices 59 oz or larger on the 1 gallon Publix orange juice this week. No problem! I'm definitely printing more of these coupons!

Anonymous,  September 7, 2012 at 6:17 PM  

I love Publix brand products - sometimes even better than the national brand.

Anonymous,  September 7, 2012 at 7:00 PM  

Thanks for the information. I was not aware Publix would take competitor coupons and store brand coupons. I will give this a try. With two coupons per item. This is great!! Thanks, Dee

Frugal Follies September 7, 2012 at 7:57 PM  

Dee, you can use both a manufacturer's coupon and a store coupon - either a Publix store coupon or a competitor's store coupon. You can't use both a Publix store coupon AND a competitor's store coupon for the same item. Just wanted to make that clear.

Anonymous,  September 7, 2012 at 8:13 PM  

I love your site and the way you break things down. Ive signed up for your news letter and hope to find out more. Are you also in Florida? or another state.? sherry

Frugal Follies September 7, 2012 at 8:56 PM  

Thanks! I live in South Florida, land of high prices and no double coupons. Because of those things I don't always save as much as other coupon bloggers, but I do the best I can given my circumstances.

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