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Wal-mart Saves on Groceries, But You Call This Proof?

Over the past six months or so, Wal-mart has been advertising that families who spend a $100 a week on groceries could save $165 in three months if they shop at Wal-mart.

Now, there are two new versions of the ad that apparently started running nationally around February 16, 2010, making the claim “People who spent $100 a week at leading national supermarkets on frequently purchased groceries, could have saved $55 in one month by shopping at Wal-mart instead.”


Look at their disclaimer above.  Do you think there might be something a little fishy about the proof they offered for how they arrived at that claim?  Putting aside the issue that they don’t count meat, produce, and other weighed-to-order items which can be a substantial portion of one’s grocery bill, and that there really is no such thing as a “national supermarket” with locations in all states, look at when their survey was conducted.  It is for an almost six week period beginning January 31 and ending March 12, 2010. Check your calendar because it still is not March 12 yet!  So how does Wal-mart know the results of its price comparison a month before the comparison is over, and how can an as yet uncompleted survey be used to substantiate an advertising claim?

That question was posed to Wal-mart’s PR folks, who were invited to comment for this story twice.  No response was received. And the commercial is still running (it was on during 60 Minutes last night) despite Wal-mart being made aware of the problem one week ago.

It is also curious that the savings claimed last summer in a similar series of commercials — $165 for three months — works out to exactly $55 a month.  That is the very amount they are claiming to be the current monthly savings.  Have not grocery prices changed even a penny in six months?

Last June, the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau ruled in a case about Wal-mart’s previously advertised grocery savings claims (similar to this commercial):

“NAD further determined that the claim ‘if you bought these kinds of groceries at Wal-Mart, you could save on average over $700 a year’ was not supported by the evidence in the record and therefore recommended that it be discontinued.”

So the “$55” ad above is the new and improved version of the commercial?

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19 thoughts on “Wal-mart Saves on Groceries, But You Call This Proof?”

  1. Also funny that the original “$700 savings a year” that NAD felt was unsupported by evidence comes out to $58.33 a month…..apparently Wal-Mart thinks their “evidence” CAN support $55 a month. That last $3.33 must be the problem…..=)

  2. Even if the commercial & survey were accurate, what’s left out is the far-reaching, human toll of WalMart’s policies. In Oct. 2007 my husband & I vowed we would never shop there again. I’m proud to say that we’ve stuck to that.

  3. WalMart could say I could save $700.00 dollars a month and I still WOULDN’T shop there. I have never shopped there and never will. WalMart is evil!!

  4. More bullcrap! We have several super markets in our area and we shop sales using coupons as often as possible. Been doing this for decades. After a bit you understand that certainly stores may have consistently lower prices on some items you routinely purchase but not all. As far as WalMart we have a Super one in our area and I have never been that impressed. I find the produce of average to below average quality and the meats can generally find cheaper elsewhere and better cuts. I don’t exclude WM but it is not on my prime list to visit.

  5. We have a regional chain here called Winco. Overall they have Walmart prices beat in all catagories plus they are more convenient. I stay away from Walmart as much as possible. They are my supplier of last resort for all my shopping. They are constantly rearranging the store making things difficult to find.

  6. We only shop at “ChinaMart” a few times a year. If you look closely you will see there are 6 rolls of paper towels where the other stores have 8 or a few less ounces of soap etc but the price is only slightly lower making the price per unit higher! ….. Yep employee owned Winco (or called WareMart in some areas) is the place we shop also!

  7. I have a walmart neighborhood market near me. Its basically a walmart supermarket and I like shopping there. They are definetly cheaper than the Publix which is the other supermaket near me. I buy all my meat at Costco and butcher it myself and pack it in foodsaver bags. Way cheaper and better than most options.

  8. walmart has been banned here in new york city. i was too naive to understand why a few years ago but now i know all of its tricks. THANK GOODNESS we do not have one in our city!

  9. Edgar comments: Comments in Mouse Print* are meant to relate to the topic being discussed. The comments area is not a forum for general rants about a company. In this case, the post above is about savings claims made by Wal-mart in television commercials. Please limit your comments to this specific subject. All others will be deleted. Thanks.

  10. I’m guessing they have a list of Great Value brand items then compare their price against brand name…uhm, similar items as indicated in the disclaimer from stores with the highest price to come up with the $55 savings so I doubt it’s a realistic number. We shop at Walmart regularly and some things are cheaper and others more expensive, just like any other store!

  11. I think with most adverts the price comparisons are totally pulled out of thin air. I love the infomercials where you get 700 dollars worth of (whatever) for only….19.95! Plus Shipping & handling which is not shown until you call and find out the S&H is way more than you thought and the guy on the phone wants to sell you all kinds of extras.

  12. Edgar, Have you checked into the supermarkets and all of the names one store may operate under? I seem to remember that Kroger Corp, under several different names (Fred Meyer’s, Payless, Dillon’s, Ralph’s, Scott’s, Fry’s, and many others) now had stores in at least every one of the 48 contiguous states. I personally would count that as a national chain.

    Edgar replies: Chris, no I haven’t researched all the chains owned by certain large companies, but I certainly would not say because a corporation owns many different chains around the country that therefore you can count that as a national chain. After all, each one has separate pricing. And as far as I know, none of the chains you mentioned are in the Northeast (and I just looked at Kroger’s entire list).

  13. I can’t verify the Walmart claims, but the markets in the Los Angeles area do the same thing. They compare their store brands to the national brands and claim to be cheaper. So, a whole basket full of Ralph’s store brand items will be cheaper than the similar national brands at any other market. Heck, it would be cheaper at its own store.

  14. In the book “The Armchair Economist” the author recalled how his grocery store would compare its sales items with identical items not on sale at its rival. IIRC, he stated how they’d proclaim how much you could save each week shopping there instead of the rival store. Of course this week your store beats the competition with X savings on apples and next week you can claim Y savings with oranges. However, that first week your rival may have beaten you on oranges and the next week they’re kicking your butt on apples. Wow! Your on-sale price is beater than your rival’s regular price? I’d sure hope it would or else it’s not much of a sale. I’m not shilling for the book, but that chapter is priceless (no pun intended).

  15. We don’t have a Super Walmart here in San Diego (denied by City rules several times) but I’ve found that Walmart prices in general (for cereal, snacks, etc) are a bit cheaper. However, to me the price differential is not worth the pain of the arrogant people who shop there and block the aisles while they browse and knock into your cart as they go past.
    Conversely, the Super Walmart at my brother’s house (outside Vegas) doesn’t seem to have especially cheap prices on most of the food … compared to the prices in San Diego (OK, not really a fair comparison, but if they’re talking about national savings, I would expect their prices to be consistent everywhere.)
    Here in San Diego, I’ve found that the bigger chains (Vons, Ralphs, Albertsons and Costco) are way over-prices compared to most of the smaller stores, even on name-brand items…so I guess that’s why they offer their incentive programs–so you can get the discount price to match the local stores.
    Anyway, comparing Walmart to the big stores, I would expect a 15-30% savings if you don’t use coupon, don’t buy items on sale, and don’t use the incentive programs. If you use those, your difference may be closer to 2-5%.

  16. In the Boise, Idaho market, just before Thanksgiving, a local TV station did a one-to-one comparison of purchasing the things you needed to make a Thanksgiving meal. This included items like a turkey, 10 lbs of potatoes, green beans, peas, rolls, etc. There were four supermarkets tested, Walmart, Winco, Fred Meyer, and Albertson’s. Big surprise! Albertson’s which is thought to have the highest prices came out with the lowest total, and Walmart was the most expensive. Walmart may advertise the lowest prices, but with this consumer, I’m glad I do most of my shopping and apparently saving at Albertson’s.

  17. I have stopped going to Walmart since 2004. It all happened after I watched an episode on PBS called “Frontline”. There I came to know the extent this company will go to bring the price down. What I care is about prices. I care even more about the way the company treats the employees and the folks who make these in the developing countries. My wife likes to go to Walmart and after begging her not to, she had stayed away from there 99%.

  18. I remember the day I moved to Texas and was told that what I was shopping for could be found at Walmart. I had to ask where it was. You could have heard a pin drop. It was like I was an alien from outerspace.

    My niece almost exclusively shops there. If I want something of really low quality I’ll go there.

    I think I have too many teeth to be a regular shopper at Walmart.

    FYI, Walmart brand bottled water was the only water tested that did not pass safe drinking regulations.

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