Friday, March 4, 2011

Kroger vs. Publix

I've decided to do a little experiment. Allison and I started shopping at Publix when we lived in Smyrna. We have also shopped at Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Bi-Lo during periods of time in our marriage. At some point we just decided to give Publix a try. Because we follow the Dave Ramsey cash envelope system, we could easily tell if going to Publix affected our budget one way or the other. After several weeks we determined that it appeared as though Kroger and Publix were comparable when it came to price and because of the great customer service and friendly people, Publix was the place to go.

Fast forward a few years. We are still using the cash envelope system, however, we are using to track our budget and spending. This method compiles the information on a monthly basis, whereas before we essentially budgeted on two-week time frames. For the month of February we shopped at Publix for our groceries. And for the month of March we are shopping at Kroger in order to be able to compare the two to decide if it may be worth a switch.

Here are few of my thoughts and observations from week one of my experiment. Keep in mind we are BIG fans of Publix, so I definitely have a bias. Also, I don't really use coupons. We buy a lot of generic items and shop based on need and a list, therefore coupons and sales are really a bonus for us. My first observation was Kroger didn't seem to be as well lit and the aisles seemed to be more narrow. Keeping in mind my bias, I don't think this was because of pre-conceived thoughts I have. This, however, is not a reason to stop shopping somewhere. My second observation is that Kroger does not have a big of a selection of items/brands as Publix does. This could end up being a deal breaker. As I said before, we buy a lot of generic items. There were some things that I was not able to get generic at Kroger that I can at Publix. In this same vein, there was not much organic/grass fed meat and only 1/2 gallon in organic milk. After watching the movie Food, Inc., Allison and I try to eat organic/grass fed beef and drink organic milk. The third thing I noticed is that Kroger, at least the one I was in, has taken notice of the friendliness at Publix. I was engaged by several employees and everyone seemed very helpful. This was a big deal to us when we started shopping at Publix. It was just a better shopping experience.

As I'm typing this I realize that my bias toward Publix is shining through. I am definitely trying to be open minded and if there is a significant amount of savings by shopping at Kroger that is what I will do. As I've told people in the past, it's worth $5ish per week to me to shop at Publix. If the amount goes above that I'm not sure it's worth it. I plan to shop tomorrow and hopefully will have some additional thoughts and observations to share.

Do any of you have a preference? Is there a reason you grocery shop where you do?


Jason Joyce said...

It's your night owl friend checking in on your blog. We shop at kroger mostly which probably isnt a shock to you. It is within walking distance. However, if you ask me, it has less to do with proximity and more to do with habit. In earlier posts you discuss parents shaping their kids. My mom always got groceries at Kroger's. So even though I'm over 30 (slightly), to me, that's the "grocery getting place". I'm interested to see how your experiment goes. I'm also interested to see how much your bias continues to shine through. Anyway, good job so far at posting more consistently!

Cody said...

You know Tara and I shop at Publix. Las Palmas is next door - which makes for a wonderful shopping experience.

J Bussell said...

I warned of the bias almost from the beginning. The Publix in Smyrna was great, especially the ladies in the deli. Also, at the Publix near our house, I asked the manager about a particular size of the cereal we eat and they didn't carry it, so I asked if he could get it. The next week it was on the shelf. It may have been coincidence, but I've always heard that if you ask and Publix can get it, they will order the product.

Love that you pointed out that where your mom shopped heavily influenced where you shop. Not that it's a critical issue, but it highlights that parents make a difference in their kids decisions.

Charis Bussell said...

I agree with Jason. My mom was also a Kroger shopper. I have tried all of the different grocery stores and I have to say that the customer service at Publix is amazing. I do find that what we buy on a regular basis is less at Kroger. I can't wait to see the end of the experiment. Thanks for keeping us updated.

Anonymous said...

I live in Dunwoody and both a good Publix and a decent Kroger are about 1.25 miles from my house. Generally speaking I'd give the nod to Kroger for lower prices (ice cream, milk, juices, meat, fish, and cheese are always without exception lower than Publix - Publix does have lower prices on some wines I'm fond of) and concede superior customer service to Publix (with some exceptions). My local Publix has ticked me off with the removal of self serve checkout - while lanes are usually line free - in some cases even when a there is no checkout line I prefer self checkout - I'm not trying to sound arrogant but I can simply checkout faster than most professionals (mostly because there's no chit chat). I agree with Jason to a degree that Publix has some generic products that Kroger does not have - namely organic products - but when you look at the broad non organic spectrum of products - Kroger wins hands down. Also the Dunwoody's Publix's meat and fish simply don't compare in quality to the Dunwoody Kroger (I'm referring to the Jett Ferry location, not the Georgetown one). Kroger features Prime filet mignons (even Fresh Market does not have that) and a ton of Kosher/Glatt meats and fishes (I'm not Jewish but have found many instances where Kosher meat, chicken, and fish are far superior to Non Kosher). I'd also give Kroger the nod on produce - I can get a far wider variety of tomatoes at Kroger (Heirloom, Ugly Ripe, and Tomatillos - are rarely, if ever at Publix). As an added benefit, Kroger also gives me a great gasoline discount - Publix does not.