Houston's grocery landscape is changing. You've probably noticed the new stores popping up. But have you popped in to check them out? KPRC Local 2 consumer expert Amy Davis did. She's comparing prices to find out how much you can save at these low budget, no frills supermarkets.
From produce to frozen pizza, at first glance, Aldi and Joe V's Smart Shop may look like other grocery stores in town. UT mom bloggers Kristin Holt Duncan and Kristi Reddell say the difference is the dollars they save each week.
"Overall, they're just a fantastic value," said Duncan, better known as "Coupon Kristin" on her blog by the same name.
"The discount prices actually put a lot more food on the table for my family," said Reddell, author of "Mom's Confession".
To find out how much your family could save, we gave each mom a grocery list with 15 items and sent them shopping. We compared the total cost to WalMart's price for the same 15 items. We compared things you buy every week like milk, eggs, bread, cheese, chicken and for dessert, ice cream.
Aldi and Joe V's are smaller than your traditional grocery chain, so there are fewer items. Instead of 12 brands of spaghetti sauce, you may only find three.
You can find name brands at both stores like Bounty paper towels and Crest toothpaste, but to keep costs low, we bought store brand items.
Duncan said she feeds her family of five on $100 a week by shopping at Joe V's.
"I could pick up everything on my list from milk and butter to eggs, to meat to produce to frozen foods with name brands, and they accept coupons," she said.
Aldi does not accept manufacturer coupons, and you'll have to use a debit card or pay with cash at both stores. That's fine with Reddell who said she spends about $65 a week at Aldi to feed her family of four.
"I have two boys, "she said. "They're nine and 12. They eat a lot."
And our mom bloggers say the influx of the no-frills stores are making an impact on grocery prices at the bigger chains too. Duncan noticed a price change back in May.
"Kroger dropped their price on milk per gallon from $3.24 to about $1.89, at my stores, in competition with Aldi," Duncan explained.
The price drop was short lived. When we checked the milk at Kroger, it was $2.68 a gallon compared to Aldi's $1.89.
"It's very difficult for our competitors to compete with us for an on-going period of time," said Aldi's Karla Waddleton. "They just don't have the efficiencies."
You'll notice one of those efficiencies in the parking lot at Aldi's. You won't ever see an employee rounding up stray carts. To save on costs, to get a cart, customers deposit a quarter to free a cart at the front of the store. When they return the cart, they get the quarter back.
Joe V's model capitalizes on the same sort of efficiencies.
"The entire focus of a Joe V's is to remove as much cost out of the business so that we can focus entirely on having the same fresh products that we've always offered at a much lower price," said Joe V's Armando Perez.
When we added up all of the items we purchased, and adjusted for differing sizes and quantities per package, we found Walmart, known for its "every day low prices," charged us $29.33. Aldi and Joe V's were neck and neck. We spent $26.50 at Joe V's and $26.41 at Aldi. That's an 11 percent savings over Walmart.
"We're just glad that we have someone else confirming what we've always known, "said Aldi's Waddleton. "That when you shop with Aldi, you're going to save money."
Aside from the milk, other low prices worth a mention are: one dozen eggs at Aldi are only 79 cents, compared to $1.69 at WalMart. Bananas are 33 cents a pound at Joe V's, the lowest price in the city.
Walmart Spokesperson, Molly Philhours, sent us the following statement:
"Anytime there’s an environment with high-low retailers, pricing surveys will reflect some differences. Walmart is delivering EDLP - not pricing gimmicks - every day, 365 days per year, not just during a single week, or during a particular season, on items people have come to know and trust. Our customers don’t have to wait for a sale or look for an ad. We give them the promise of EDLP and they trust us to keep that promise. Customers are responding with their wallets - we’re continuing to win back customers and attract new ones.
In the rare case that a competitor beats us on a price for a product because of a sale or gimmick, our Ad Match Guarantee allows for an easy price match of any local competitor’s ad for an identical product, right at the cash register."
Below are all of the items we shopped and the prices at each store: