Tag Archives: groceries

The perils of dynamic pricing

I’ve been doing a lot of running around lately, and I have a tendency when out and about to look around at the prices for the things we buy a lot.  Like food.  Although I can barely remember to pick up dog food before we run out, or to make my kid’s dental appointment, I have a decent memory for prices because I’m genetically engineered to avoid being ripped off.

Today I made my monthly (bi-monthly?) trip to Ralph’s (Kroger).  Let me first say that Ralph’s, you have a LOT of nerve saying you have low prices.  Most of the foods in the store were not just priced a little higher, but a LOT higher.  We’re talking a buck or more in some cases.

Of course, I’m not talking about the foods I was there to buy: Pad Thai noodles, sliced water chestnuts, and ginger (which, at the same price as Trader Joe’s, is refrigerated and of much higher quality/freshness).  In fairness, on my way out I spotted organic chard for the same price as at Whole Foods ($1.99 a bunch) and organic carrots for $.79 a pound and made off with both on impulse (whoo, I really like to live big, don’t I?).

Clearly Ralph’s does all right on some items (grapes, for example, were competitively priced on sale, as were apples), and makes up a lot of ground on others (you can get spanked buying detergent there, and the pasta was at least $.20 more per bag).  Beans in bulk at Whole Foods cost less per pound than conventionally grown dry beans at Ralph’s.  That’s how dynamic pricing works:  They grab you for the sale, and grab you somewhere down south for the rest.

I was particularly peeved by the price of Fage yogurt.

Mmmm. How much are you willing to pay to get your yogurt fix?

Like many of my students, I really like Fage, but probably unlike my students I know what Fage costs nearly everywhere a person can buy it.  Fage has really, really dynamic pricing (pricing that changes with inventory, season, or the whims of some evil genius).  Here is a cost breakdown of normally priced Fage in my ‘hood, per 5.3 oz container as of yesterday, 10/17/12:

  • Ralphs:             $1.69
  • Trader Joe’s:   $1.49
  • Target:              $1.42
  • Costco:              $1.09 – but you have to buy a box of 12 in flavors                  chosen for you

Continue reading

Advertisements