Stretching Your Grocery Dollars

Local 2 Investigates is looking out for your bottom line at the grocery store.  Tonight at 10, we compared prices of the 5 largest grocery store chains in our area: Wal-mart, Target, Randall’s H-E-B and Kroger.

When we contacted each store for their response to what we found, most sent us information on how you can save by shopping their stores.  Keep reading to find out how to stretch your dollar depending on where you shop.kroger

With regard to the pricing story you are working on, our retail prices are a function of the cost of the product from the manufacture. In terms of the price comparison, we believe your sample is too small. When we do price comparisons of our competitors we look at least 200 products to get an accurate view of total pricing.

Lastly Kroger has a large variety of the Kroger Brand product. This product is as good as or better than the national brand at a lower retail price.

We are seeing that many customers have switched to the Kroger Brand to save money. In regard to the increase in retail, there is no doubt we have experienced food inflation. This was a factor of a number of things including the economy, fuel prices, increased world demand, etc. Kroger through its extensive buying capabilities works hard to keep inflation to a minimum.

 Kroger triples manufacturer’s coupons up to 35 cents and doubles coupons up to 50 cents.

1. Shortcuts
 A service of AOL, in partnership with Kroger, the site allows customers to download coupons directly to their Kroger Plus Card. During checkout, coupons are automatically redeemed when your Card is scanned.2.

 Customers can download Procter & Gamble (e.g. Tide) coupons directly to your Kroger Plus Card. During checkout, coupons are automatically redeemed when you scan your Card.
3. Printable Coupons

 Customers who forget to pick up the Sunday paper can print coupons directly from the site. They can also view their weekly circulars online and add items directly to an electronic shopping list – another surefire way to save money.



Customers can sign up for a 1-2-3 Rewards MasterCard and earn free groceries when they shop. Customers earn points every time they shop with the card 1 point for every dollar spent outside the store, 2 points for every dollar spent inside the store and 3 points for every dollar spent on any of the Kroger family brands. For every 1,000 points earned, cardholders receive $5 in FREE groceries.Also, through our NEW Holiday Fuel Saver Reward Program (

1 point for every dollar spent outside the store, 2 points for every dollar spent inside the store and 3 points for every dollar spent on any of the Kroger family brands. For every 1,000 points earned, cardholders receive $5 in FREE groceries.Also, through our NEW Holiday Fuel Saver Reward Program6.

 Kroger shoppers are able to save $.10 off fuel with a $100 grocery purchase, as well as by purchasing $50 in gift cards or by filling two prescriptions at a Kroger Pharmacy (refills or new prescriptions). The gift cards and prescriptions are new features for this holiday season that will continue through the end of the year. See attached release on this program.




H-E-B doesn’t triple or double coupons, but instead HEB President Scott McClelland says the store offers everyday low prices.

The retailer hires an independent auditing company to comparison shop 15,000 items at both Kroger and Wal-Mart every month. H-E-B says it then adjusts its prices so that 75% of those 15,000 items are priced equal to or lower than the items at Kroger. McClelland says on average, their audits show H-E-B prices are about 8 percent lower than Kroger and slightly higher than retail giant wal-Mart.

You can see the results of H-E-B’s price checks.  Most of the products list the price you’d pay at Kroger versus the price you pay at H-E-B.

H-E-B also offers what it calls “Combo Locos.” This week’s example, if you buy a brisket, you can get 5 or 6 items (like vegetables, bread and soda) for free.


These limited item price comparisons (yours was 10 items) rarely provide consumers with an accurate picture of real grocery prices with more than 50,000 items in a typical store.  In other words, Randalls carries more than 50,000 items in any one of our stores. A comparison of only 10 items does not provide your viewers with a true picture of prices across the entire store nor does it appropriately reflect the full savings that our customers enjoy. During any one week we have nearly 5,000 items across the store at significantly reduced special pricing. Randalls also provides customers with a broad range of other savings opportunities across the store and at the fuel pump that will not likely be reflected in this kind of story. For example:

 ·        Through our PowerPump program, Randalls is providing customers with the best fuel reward program in the market through accumulated gasoline discounts of 10 cents per gallon for each $100 spent in our stores. We recently doubled the fuel reward to 20 cents for every $100 spent on our selection of more than 300 gift cards.

·        We offer double-coupon and triple-coupon discounts.

·        Randalls has one of the best “airline miles” programs earned on Continental.

·        We provide online coupons through that customers can print and redeem in stores.


1.  Walmart is always committed to price leadership, especially when our customers need it most.

2.  We take our commitment to provide value very seriously.  We work closely with key suppliers, reduce packaging and lower shipping costs so that we can help keep prices low.  When items do increase in price we have take into consideration many factors, such as transportation and cost of manufacturing. 


Also, Walmart’s every day low price promise to be the lowest price retailer in any community through its Ad Match program.  Walmart’s policy of matching the price of any local competitor’s printed advertisement for an identical product



Still waiting on response…


32 Responses

  1. I recently saw your investigative special about grocery stores and the cost attained by purchasing 10 items from some of the major players including Randalls, Super Target, Walmart, Kroger, and HEB. I loved the program but I feel something critical was left out and your viewers would benefit TREMENDOUSLY from.

    As a college student, saving a penny here and there really does add up and as the economy becomes worse most people are tightening their wallets. The grocery stores you listed carry many ‘fancier’ items than more basic grocery stores predicated on the ‘staples’ of food.

    I shop at *Food Town* and find that although they dont carry many brands you would find at HEB for instance they carry the everyday necessities- and even all of the 10 products you listed. They dont have a “card” to save money with, nor do they offer many coupons but they do two things that stand out:

    1. Their weekly circular always has a free item or $1 coupon if you spend $10 or more.
    2. Because they dont have a store card prices are already reflected at the aisle and they are MUCH cheaper than all of the retailers you listed.

    They have many locations in and around Houston and should be added to the list because I feel people would save a lot especially in the long-run. If I can be of any assistance in providing you a copy of the reciept of those 10 items let me know. You can list them with the brand name and quantity and I will purchase them myself.

    Keep up the great work!

  2. I watched your story tonight on grocery stores and it was very helpful. I am feeding a family of 5 (3 teenagers, 2 of them boys) and my weekly grocery bill has risen from $175 a week to over $200. I have even tried buying the bulk of my groceries at Wal Mart and then my meats and produce at HEB, that saved some money, however, it was costing me more in time (also expensive). I feel like I’m the wicked witch every time I go grocery shopping and having to put a limit on my kid’s favorite items that I used to buy regularly.

    How can all these groceries stores (HEB, Kroger and Randall’s) advertise to have the cheapest prices when they don’t? It is very deceiving and frustrating. Wal Mart seems to be the cheapest, however, you save money and lose quality on meats and produce. I know they will argue that, however, it is true. Plus it takes so much time to shop in a Wal Mart and wait in their lines.

    The days when you could just run to the grocery store and do your weekly shopping without any preparation are long gone. As consumers we have to be smarter shoppers in a world where time is also extremely valuable.

    I’m looking forward to your continued reports on grocery store shopping. This is a subject that hits home for a lot of families. Thank you for taking the time on this subject.

  3. I am a loyal Randall’s shopper. I don’t have a car so I go to a store that is convenient for me and cheaper too–or so I thought. I was in Randall’s on Sunday and needed some cheezwhiz–1 8oz jar was more than 5 dollars and that was supposed to be a sale. I went to H.E.B. today–across the street from Randall’s and bought 2 jars of cheezewhiz for $3.78 each. Th eFriskies cat food that I buy for $.99 at Randall’s was on sale at H.E.B. for $.63 and the Thomas English Muffins were either $ 1 or almost $1 cheaper than the Randall’s price–oh yes, the cream of mushroom soup was $.60 a can compared to $.89 at Randall’s, Thera Flu–which was $6.59 or more at both Randall’s and Walgreens was $ 4.98 in H.E.B–I bought 2.–I have decided to just shop and H.E.B. it is also on my way to the home front I just have to walk across Bissonnet. All this time, I thought because I have the Randall’s card that I was saving–now I see that they are just way too high as far as the price are concerend.

  4. I watched your special on grocery store prices and I actually had an experience today where I was overcharged for an item. I went grocery shopping at Kroger and purchased Gala Apples which is on sale through today for $0.97 per pound, but I was charged for Red Delicious Apples for $1.49 per pound. I did not catch this error until I had left and gone about my day. It’s hard to watch what you’re being charged when you have to load your groceries on the conveyor belt and sack them (no sacker was available at the time) yourself. What surprised me is that the produce sticker with the code was on each apple yet the cashier still rang it up wrong. Thank you for investigating this issue and you bet I will be going back for my $0.91 refund because every penny counts right now with the economy the way it is!

  5. Your report on the above tonight on 10.00 News.

    Kroger & Wal-Mart used to sell Minute Maid sugar free lemonade for 99c each, consistently NOT ON SALE.

    Starting 6-8 weeks ago Kroger is $1.69 (with card) & Wal-Mart is $1.38.

    A 69% & 38% increase respectively. No one at either store could explain and just shrugged their shoulders when I asked why the big increase!

    If that is not exploitation/gouging I don’t know what is.

  6. I have repeatedly been overcharged at 3 Kroger stores in Houston. (The store at Echo Lane and I-10, the one at Wirt and Westview, and the following example at 11th Street and Shepherd.)
    On one occasion, the overcharges were almost $14 on a $40 bill. Vitamins were advertised as “buy one for $8.99 and get one free.”  I was charged $8.99 for each one. Hot house tomatoes were advertised for 99 cents per pound and I was charged $2.99 per pound. Being overcharged necesitated getting in line again at Customer Service for a refund. On that particular day, the customer service rep stated, “That’s been a problem all day,” after noting the overcharges. So, why wasn’t the problem corrected after the first time it was noted?
    The greatest number of overcharges have been in the produce department. Thank you for checking out this situation. My pointing out the overcharges have been largely met with a shrug or even surliness that I would complain.

  7. I consider myself a true-blue double / triple couponing,

    price-comparing, bargain-busting grocery shopper

    with over 25 years experience in the trenches.

    In general if you compare 10 items or 100 items

    at Randalls’ you will always find them considerably

    more expensive. I mostly never shop @ Randalls

    except to occasionally pick ’em off.

    Last week’s Randalls’ bargain was a large “Honeysuckle

    White” turkey for 69 cents / lb. They are consistently


    As Thanksgiving approaches one might be able to

    score a better Turkey deal than this but you run the risk

    of getting stuck ( because of dwindling supplies )

    with the dreaded “Jenny O”.

    PS The most insidious grocery store inflation is due to

    package downsizing. But downsizing has become

    a way of life in the USA.

  8. I’ve shopped at Wal Mart and noticed the produce is limited and not very desirable. The deli carries a low end selection of lunch meat and cheese. If you care about what you feed your family, Wal Mart is not the place to shop. How much does Wal Mart charge for Horizon organic milk? Cage Free, natural eggs?

    Maverick ground beef that’s grass fed and without pesticides, antibiotics and hormones? If the ground beef costs more, then eat less. We are fat enough, without having stores selling ground beef for ninety-nine cents a lb that’s full of fat and hormones that only adds pounds on kids. Say what you will, but was that can of tuna caught by line or by net? Where is our conscious? Just like clothes, they’re cheaper from China but maybe if we all buy American, we’d have jobs to pay for better food products.

  9. I ahve noticed the price of Milk and eggs are higher in some stores then
    others, I live in Dayton and see the diffrence in prices from wal-mart to
    the “small town store” The meat is also higher WAY higher, they have you
    over a barrell unless you want to spend the money to drive to one of the
    surrounding towns you are kind of stuck. There is one store in Dayton that
    is way over priced, to the point I will never shop there again . And I tell
    everyone I know not to shop there either, They charge over 1.00 for Ramon
    Noodles ( mykids love them) when they are normally like 8 for a 1.00.

  10. I have also noticed that the cereal boxes keep getting smaller and smaller and the prices are not.

  11. What I’ve noticed is that different items cost diffent things at different stores. To save where I can, I buy paper products, cleaning supplies,

    Cereal, and snakes at Walmart. I purchase food items at Kroger…along with their card & coupons I usually do ok. However, I am noticing

    That products are now being packaged in smaller contains, with the price staying the same, or increasing.

    (I still haven’t gotten over how small Campbell’s soup cans are now….it kind of feels like you’re only getting half of what you made for)….

  12. I enjoyed your story about our local choices for groceries. We are all shopping smarter and trying to spend less.

    I live closer to Randalls than any of the others and I always use my Randalls card which gives me additional savings from the posted price. Your story didn’t mention the use of a Randalls or Krogers card. I am not aware of such a card for HEB, Target or Walmart.

    If you didn’t use their card, then your numbers are just flat out wrong and the story is unfair to these stores.

    I am very interest in knowing the answer.

  13. I read your story, and agree for the most part. However, you did not include fresh meat in the story. While Wal-Mart does typically have better prices on just about everything else (regular prices), their meat selection is not only more limited, but it is also more expensive. I have found that Food Town and HEB have better prices and selection on fresh meat.

    Just thought I would pass that along.

  14. The stores are making little on the sale of the groceries but how has the economy affected the price they charge for the shelf space for the products being sold?

  15. I really liked your report on the grocery store comparisons.

    I HAVE to say, while Wal-Mart may be the cheapest, I absolutely HATE shopping there. The produce and meat and dairy are very unappealing.

    I went to Wal-Mart for the first time in a long time recently (mainly to purchase Garage Sale supplies). I went ahead to the grocery section to get a few items and noticed the grapes did not look so bad. When I returned home, my daughter immediately asked for some of the grapes. They tasted horrible! They were almost inedible.

    It was then remembered why I hate shopping at Wal-Mart so much. This was not the first time I was disappointed with their sub-par produce . I have returned rotten meat and dairy products there, as well. I think I will only go back for canned items and cheap Barbie dolls.

    Another thing I have noticed…… while Wal-mart and Target may have the least expensive GROCERY items, it is very hard to walk out of either of these stores without making unplanned non-grocery purchases. This is particularly true of Target, who carries clothing and home items that are good quality and VERY hard to resist. Target has many famous designers making affordable and fashionable apparel items and home décor. And, Target always has the most adorable holiday supplies. While they may be inexpensive and seem like a deal, they start adding up and before you know it you’ve spent $300 you hadn’t intended on spending.

    Also, stores like Randall’s and Kroger’s are more invested in their neighbors/community. To me it’s worth it to pay a little extra to be served by someone who knows my family and has watched my daughter grow over the years and to know the pharmacist personally, etc.


    HEB and Kroger have the best quality produce. I don’t necessarily know if it’s the best price, I suspect it isn’t, but I don’t mind paying for quality fruit.

    After Hurricane Ike, HEB did an awesome job getting their stores opened quickly and getting ice trucks in. They honored vouchers they handed out when they were out of ice, giving priority to those with vouchers when new shipments came in. And, they did not hike up their prices during that time. BRAVO!

  16. I hate to say this but I shop at Kroger’s with my coupons and they do not double or triple manufacture coupons. Unless they have it on certain days. I would like to know when they do this.

  17. I just like to tell you that your comparison of Grocery Store Prices disn’t reflect the sale prices for Kroger. Just like everybody else these days I try to watch my budget and I always go through the weekly ads that are mailed to me by all 3 major Grocery Stores (HEB, Randall’s and Kroger). I make my list comparing prices and believe me you cannot beat the sale prcies, especially Kroger’s. Their regualr prices may be a few cents higher than WalMart (that’s ruining all small businesses) but WalMart never has 50% off, Buy 1 Get 1 free or any of great daels that Kroger/Randall’s offer on a weekly basis. So I think you should mention that in your specials regarding this matter, just to be fair.

  18. I like the story you are doing on comparing grocery prices. I had been an advocate for shopping at Wal-Mart but even their prices have climbed over the years. I can remember prices in my head and watching these escalate was very frustrating trying to stay in a budget. Green Giant Green Beans for example, in the last 2 years went from .44 to .66 to .88 and is now .98. Frito Lay assorted individual bags of chips was $4.00, and is now $6.20. Some with chicken breast that went from $4.00 a package to now $6.00 a package. I could name a lot more than that but that is a few I remember off the top of my head.
    I wanted to tell you about The Grocery Game at http://www.TheGroceryGame.Com. You can get list of things that are on sale that are in the circular of the newspaper, but also have extra items on there that are not in the circular. They go an extra step and match current coupons with the sale items to get you the best deals. For a trial period of 4 weeks, it cost only $1.00 to get as many stores lists as you’d like for your area. Then when the trial period is up, you pay for an 8 week period, $10.00 for the first store’s list, and an additional $5.00 for each additional store. You have to make sure you change how many stores you want to be billed for before that trial period is up.
    I have found that even though Randall’s has high prices, they also have great sales. Randall’s and Kroger’s both double and triple certain coupons. Wal-Mart, Target and H.E.B. do not. So, I am able to save more by buying at Randall’s when things are on sale and I have a coupon for it. I spent $220.00 at Randall’s the other day for a family of four, and I saved $134.00. That is well worth what I pay to get this list. I am paying for 3 stores, which is $20.00 every 8 weeks or $2.50 per week. Not bad at all. Yes, it is time consuming cutting coupons, but I am starting to get the hang of it. At first I didn’t see too much of a difference, but now I am starting to be able to stock up on certain items, and buy something other than chicken! Yeah! Randall’s had their Green Giant canned corn and green beans for .50 cents a can while Wal-Mart still had it for .98 cents a can. There are many more savings like this. I also only buy fruits and vegetables and meats that are on sale.
    I didn’t know if this would help you in your investigation, but it really has helped us. Keep up the great reporting.

  19. I have been purchasing green grapes
    and paying from .99 to 1.39 per pound.
    I stopped at Randal’s today and
    they charged 2.99 per pound.
    Whereas I usually buy two bags for just over $5
    today, I bought one bag and paid $7.99
    I must say, it was an outrage.
    I complained to the manager, who
    became strangely silent.
    Thanks for your feature on prices.

  20. Hello. I like to watch KPRC news at 10. I just saw the spot comparing certain grocery stores. And I am curious. The stores compared were SuperTarget, Walmart, H.E.B., Kroger’s and Randall’s. Why wasn’t Foodtown or Fiesta included? That seems very strange to me that they weren’t.

  21. I am very interested in tomorrows report on higher prices at the check out, I will no longer shop at Kroger. For the last three weeks I was overcharged 2 to 3 dollars over the price marked on the shelf ie frozen shrimp plainly maked $7.99 and I was charged $9.99. Bottled water marked 2/$5.00 and I was charged 4.99 each. and you can’t make heads nor tails out of the receipt. Very frustrating. And I have used a Krogers card for years. Last Saturday I told them they lost a customer.

  22. I enjoyed your segment Tuesday night and look forward to tonight’s segment. However, for those of us who try to buy store brand instead of name brand, which store would rate the best? I noticed on your 10 items Tuesday night that they were all name brand items. What I want to know is if I bought those same 10 items but bought store brand, how would Wal-mart’s store brand price compare to that of HEB’s or even Kroger?

  23. I was wondering, Food Town & Seller Brothers are some more grocery stores, there are more food towns than sellers.

    Do you think you will include these 2 stores in you study? I know that when food town has items on sale, they are Very

    cheap, while others that are not on sale are typically high.

  24. I’m loving your story on the grocery store comparisons. It’s
    so helpful. Last night/this morning your report about the
    quality of meat, dairy and produce at WalMart just confirmed
    my opinion. I know when I get fruit and veggies at WalMart,
    they spoil far quicker than the produce I purchase at HEB.
    That leads me to my question.

    It seems to me that there are certain stores that have better
    prices for different categories. I don’t know how you would
    research this but it seems like HEB has the best produce and
    WalMart has the lowest prices for household stuff like
    detergents, personal hygiene products, pet food, etc. I
    don’t know but Kroger might have the market for canned
    goods. The Super Target by my home in Spring has a great
    selection and quality of frozen foods. Is it possible that
    others have noticed the various stores excelling in one
    particular area?

    One other thing. I know that there have been stories on
    using coupons, whether on-line or from the paper. It’s made
    to look so easy in the reports. The thing is, the on-line
    copuons I find are either for odd products that I don’t use
    or need or in order to access the coupons you end up getting
    tons of spam e-mails. Any advice?

  25. The day you were in HEB at Westheimer & Fountainview I bought an item price tagged $9.95 but the register rang it up as $12.95. I asked them about the price difference and the lady at the register changed the price for me immeadiatly at checkout. I was suprized since I thought HEB items are entered in a database and could not be changed at the checkout?

    Mis-Labeled items are very common in supermarket in that they do not always line-up (put in the phylical location beneath the item for sale) the tagged prices with the actual item. I try to confirm prices by looking at the stock number in the prices tag and matching it with the actual item.

    Nice job!

  26. I have noticed that the Wal-Marts meat was terrible. I purchased a few ribeye stakes they were so tough the dog couldn’t eat them. They were also real bland no flavor my question is ” is the meat at Wal-Marts the same quality as at sams ?” I have not purchased meat from Sam’s my experience with Wal-Marts and made me scared to do so.

  27. Yesterday I was at Wal-mart. I noticed at once that there was about twice as much produce as in the past and a better quality. I always felt that is where they feel short and would often go to another store for produce. I hope it is a new trend.

    There were many associates or suppliers stocking the shelves and the entire area was neater. I might start to enjoy shopping there. I hate the wait to check out. There are never enough checkers but if you buy as many store brands as you can save

  28. I want to mention a crucial and overlooked fact about these supermarkets. Look at your receipts seconds after your purchase! Frequently supermarkets will have old tags underneath an item and forget to remove the label when the sale/promotion is over. Customers assume they are getting the 12 pack of Coca Cola for 2.99 (which ended 2 weeks ago) but don’t see on the receipt that the price is in the computer for $4.19.

    I once had this happen at Walmart (which is the worst about correcting prices). For three consecutive weeks I noticed they had incorrect prices for a 12 pack of Coke and I told the manager every time. But nothing was ever changed.

    It’s worth remembering that supermarkets are now changing their policy about returns. Formerly, service managers used to handle voids/returns/exchanges. Nowadays, the courtesy booth is handling these things, causing you to have to wait in line. That means, if the courtesy booth is closed (which is customary after 8:00 PM), you won’t be able to make a return.

    Finally, I’ve noticed that HEB has a policy where they won’t do refunds/exchanges for defective merchandise unless you have a receipt. Formerly stores used to do this on a case-by-case basis, but now supermarkets are sticking to this rule more strictly. The notable exception is Walmart, which has one of the most liberal return policies out there.

  29. […] KPRC Reporter Amy Davis has a great report comparing the price-cutting strategy of Houston supermarkets. […]

  30. Hello. Fantastic job, if I wasn’t so busy with my school work I read your entire site. Thanks!

  31. do u have an issue with your rss Feed? It’s not working for us :(( .Thanks for your summary ireally liked it

  32. The Internet has been the most fundamental change during my lifetime and for hundreds of years

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