What costs more? Shopping at Whole Foods or shopping at Walmart? According to price-tracking and testing site Perfect Price, Whole Foods prices might be higher than those at the bigger chain stores, but people don’t necessarily spend any more there.
Perfect Price used its credit-card transaction database to look at the spending of customers in Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, as well as stores like Costco, Walmart, and 7-Eleven. And what they found is pretty interesting.
Costco comes out at the top, in terms of money spent per visit. People really like to load up their carts in Costco’s aisles, with an average spend of $136 per visit. The bottom of this list is $18 per visit in 7-Eleven, which roughly translates to a bag full of instant ramen noodles. But that’s not really a surprise, as Costco sells in bulk (which is a surprisingly easy way to waste money), whereas 7-Eleven is an in-and-out convenience store. Trader Joe's and Whole Foods hover at the middle of this top 20 list, with an average spend of around $50 or just about the same as Walmart.
So while the actual groceries bought will surely be quite different, the average spend at these stores is about the same, which is quite a surprise. But the fun isn’t over—Perfect Price also broke down the spending at Whole Foods stores by city. Where do people spend the most? Portland? San Francisco? Nope. Chicago is at the top of the Whole Foods spending list, at $66 per visit. Portland is way down the top 20 list at number 18, with a paltry $43 per trip (possible the Portland shoppers can carry less on their bikes than Chicagoans can fit in their cars).
The rest of the top 5 is filled by Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Dallas, TX, and Oakland, CA. Yes, Oakland beats out San Francisco by $56 to $47, maybe because anyone who can still afford to live in SF gets their meals free at the Google or Apple campus canteens and never needs to buy groceries.
So what do these figures really mean? One big factor might be the amount bought per trip. Urban dwellers are far more likely to stop off in a smaller, nearby store than they are to drive out of town to load up in a Costco or Walmart, which means smaller, more frequent trips. In this light, the placing of Austin, Boston, Cupertino, and Portland at the bottom of the list looks like people making quick runs to the store on foot or by bike, which might actually be the healthiest part of their grocery shopping.
Cover Photo: Flickr user Richard