How Low Can the Grocery Prices Go?

Photo credit: Mike Mozart, CC BY 2.0.

I keep telling myself “you can’t turn The Billfold into The Amazon Show,” but Amazon is in the process of turning the entirety of retail into The Amazon Show, so… hey look, it’s another Amazon story.

We’ll start with Consumerist:

As Amazon heats up the grocery store wars with new discounts at Whole Foods— which has been bringing in more shoppers since the companies became one — Target is fighting back by promising to cut prices on thousands of items.

The company announced on Friday that it’s cutting prices on a slew of items, including cereal, paper towels, milk, eggs, baby formula, razors, bath tissues, and thousands of other products.

When you go to the source—that is, the Target announcement—you get this:

Fill your cart with confidence. Go ahead, choose from thousands of items, from milk and eggs to crayons, markers and more … and simply drop them in your cart. We’ve taken a close look at the products that are most important to our guests, making sure they’re priced right daily.

The announcement also clarifies that Target is cutting back on individual sales so it can lower prices across the board:

Say goodbye to all those little signs and ads letting you know about the “Weekly Wow!” or “Bonus Offer.” We’ve eliminated more than two-thirds of our price and offer call-outs so you can more easily spot the savings.

It’s hard to tell whether Target is eliminating the words “bonus offer” or actually eliminating bonus offers—but if it’s the latter, that means Target will save money should they choose to raise prices later. It’s a win-win!

But which retailer is actually winning on low prices? I did a few quick online comparisons, and here’s what items are going for in my area:

Store-brand paper towels, 8 rolls

Target Up & Up: $8.49

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value: $6.99

Crayons, in the two closest equivalent sizes I could find

Target Crayola Dinosaur Roar crayons, 16 ct: $1.99

Whole Foods Melissa & Doug Truck Crayon Set, 12 ct: $4.99 (plus the Crayolas just look way better)

Cheerios, 24 oz box

Target: $2.50 (with a note that it’s usually $2.99)

Whole Foods: $3.99

The thing about online shopping is that you could, in theory, get your towels at Whole Foods and your crayons and Cheerios at Target, and maybe that’s how this retail game will eventually play out—with, of course, various third-party apps ready to help ensure you have the lowest prices (in exchange for your data).

But until then, we might be in for a few rounds of “how low can the grocery prices go?”

Or, maybe: “how hard will the retailers try to convince us that they have the lowest prices?”

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