Comparative prices at 7 grocery stores on Manhattan’s UWS

With Food Prices Jumping, How Do UWS Markets Compare? Frugal Frannie Investigates…

Posted on October 16, 2021 at 8:33 pm by West Sider

By Frugal Frannie

Tis the season of check-out shock. My typical grocery shop used to hit around $50 a go. But in September, each trip started landing at over $60. How about you?

According to the Consumer Price Index report issued October 13th, food prices nationally are rising at a 4.6% annual clip, with overall inflation hitting 5.4%, the highest in 13 years

To ensure I’m spending my food budget as wisely as possible, I’ve been hunting in multiple Upper West Side supermarkets within a 15-minute walk of my apartment. My discovery? Bargains can be had at almost every one; but prices on individual “benchmark” items vary widely, with some costing DOUBLE at one place versus another.  

Instead of keeping all that data in my head, I decided to create a “market basket” of 21 common items and do a survey of seven markets in a single day. On October 15th, I checked prices at:

  • Brooklyn Fare at 62nd and West End Ave (just opened)
  • Fairway at 74th and Broadway
  • Gristedes at 84th and Columbus
  • Jubilee at 69th and Freedom Place
  • Key Food at 86th and Amsterdam
  • Pioneer at 74th and Columbus
  • Trader Joe’s at 72nd and Broadway

Comparing apples-to-apples, even among apple prices, wasn’t always simple. So here’s my GIANT METHODOLOGY DISCLAIMER:  I looked for the lowest available price on a given item, using unit pricing to standardize. 

For example, Trader Joe’s sells Granny Smith apples for 69 cents each; Fairway has a three-pound bag for $6.99; Brooklyn Fare posted $1.99 a pound. A typical apple weighs a half-pound. I calculated a standard pound price for all stores. Is it perfect? No. 

If an item was on sale, say three cans of tuna for $4, I went with the unit price based on that deal. Again, this is a snapshot based on the lowest price I saw on a single Friday. 

Finally, some stores are rather haphazard with posted prices, with many shelves missing proper tags. And I don’t know if the shelf price reflects what will be scanned at the register. Vigilance is your best defense, frugalistas. 

My findings:

What are you finding in your gustatory travels? Are you buying from different places than usual to save a buck? Have a secret source that always has the goods at great prices? Let’s hear it!

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