A Lesson in Supermarketonomics

July/2005: Shopping - I wrote a blurb on here before, say, six months ago that I would die of a lack of food due to my inability to pay an increased price for products in the supermarket after buying said product on an incredible sale. Since then, I have come across a disturbing truth about Albertsons and Safeway. I can’t shop there successfully anymore. The realization hit me as I went down the cat-food aisle.

I feed my cats dry food, but every once in a while I’ll pour some Friskies over the top as a treat. Hey, they’re my cats, they rule and they love it. It soaks some of the dry food in that wet food flavor. That makes for quite the happy cat. So each time I go to the store, I check and see what the price is for the friskies wet-food. So many flavors, so many options!

Today I hit up Albertsons and Safeway and the straw finally broke the camel’s back.

A few months ago, Albertson’s had the best deals in town on Red Baron frozen pizzas. They would be, quite often, 4 or 5 for ten dollars. An absolutely terrific deal. Then… I saw it. I saw what I knew to be the harbinger of “bad deals.” Albertson’s had created their own Albertsons-brand frozen pizza. It was 2 for 5 dollars. At that point, I knew that Red Baron would never be on a buyable deal again. The prophecy came true, it hasn’t. Now the big Red Baron “deal” is 4 for 12. Why should I buy those things for fifty cents more a pizza when I know the only reason that’s the “best” deal they can offer is because they are jacking up the national brand in order to make their inferior store-brand more attractive financially to you?

Today I went to buy my Friskies wet food cans. They’re normally 33-35 cents at Albertsons. Often they’re on a deal of 4 or 5 for a dollar. I go to the aisle. What do I see? A new brand: “Happy Tails.” Guess what the price is? 33-35 cents. Yeah. You know what’s coming. I look to the right… NOT ONLY HAVE THEY REMOVED HALF OF THE FRISKIES FLAVORS… but the price now? TWO FOR A DOLLAR! ON SALE!


I literally audibly cursed within earshot of an Albertson’s employee who said, in a cheery sing-song way… “Happy tails is our new cat food brand!” I… know. And now Friskies is suddenly almost double the price! Amazing! They must have started putting GOLD in the cans now. Either that, or there’s been such a CAT FOOD SHORTAGE… that supply and demand dictates an increase in Friskies prices, right? Right. Fucking ass right.

So I went to Safeway, thinking that they didn’t have their own brand. They do. Friskies is regularly there, 40 cents. Bullshit!

This is how the major brand grocery stores fuck us. They bring out their substandard crap brands, right? They manufacture them and save on the expense of stocking their own stuff. Pure profit, right? So instead of undercutting the national brand prices, they take the national brand and GOUGE us by increasing the price of the national brand while having “their” brand take the price point of where they used to sell the national brand. What does that do? Well, not only do they make an obscene profit on their own brand when bought… but those of society who aren’t hip to this scam that buy the national brand end up giving the stores more of a profit due to them price-jacking the competitor’s products.

Not only do these assholes then sell less of the national product (hurting that company, making them offer fewer flavors or variations) but they make more off selling the decreased amount while giving themselves an unfair position in the price wars. Now unless there’s a manufacturer sale, the national brands never go underneath the “store brands” because they set whatever price point they want for the national brands.

People complain about the rising cost of groceries and think it’s inflation. It’s not inflation. It’s Safeway, Albertsons and Fred Meyer rolling out their own pure profit goods, jacking the price of the national stuff and taking the lower price point. Instead of doing the right thing and undercutting the national brand by a few cents at the pre-store brand price point, they go in and fuck everything up for the consumer by jacking the price of the national brand. I’ve seen them do it too often. I am not usually one to scream about fucked up business practices, but this shit is absolutely driving me nuts.

Which brings me to another topic… the attacks on local grocery store chain Winco. There was an old site called StopWinco.org that was a bunch of ponderous grocery store union fuckshits bitching about how Winco doesn’t allow a union into the store… y’know, so the employees can strike and get paid an OBSCENE amount of money for moving a product across a scanner while giving you a sour attitude. They also protest the lack of bagboys, since apparently… bagging your own groceries is akin to slave labor. The problem?

Winco doesn’t fuck the consumer like Albertsons and Safeway does. Friskies is still 29 cents regular at Winco. Red Baron? Often is 2.50 a frozen pizza. Even on products where they have their own brand, they don’t jack the price of the national brand. They simply undercut the national brand’s already established price point. Winco isn’t perfect, they suck for soda deals… but overall, they’re the only company in this area doing things right for the consumer. Winco still makes their profit, they simply don’t try to gouge us by pretending that the national brand is SO expensive compared to their own. The national brand ISN’T that expensive. It’s just Safeway, Albertsons and Fred Meyer’s fucking with us.

If Winco ever goes down, I don’t know where I would shop. I refuse to play the Supermarketonomics game. I refuse to be price-fucked by these price-fixing assholes. And you should make the same refusal. Rather than socialist idiots making a stopwinco.org, someone should really be putting together the definitive website explaining just how much of a scam the major grocery store chains are pulling.

I love market ecomomics and I love unfettered capitalism. However, the consumer has to stand on their own two feet and say "no more" to this sort of shit. When it comes to groceries, the consumer should be writing these companies and telling them exactly why they're going to shop at bulk stores like Winco, who are the only alternative to the price-gouging bullshit of the national chains.