3OYS looks for best grocery deals

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- The grocery industry is an extremely competitive business and the profit margin is only 1 to 3 percent, so stores are not making much money.

Still, there are ways for you to save more at the checkout counter.

When it comes to grocery shopping, Valley residents have plenty to say.

"They generally have two for this price or two for that price," one shopper said.

Nothing says savings like low prices.

"Albertsons has a lot of good sales but then also Wal-Mart, I do go there as well because they price match," another shopper said.

3 On Your Side went to eight stores across the Valley in search of the best savings. We had five items on our shopping list: Ragu tomato sauce, bananas, Corn Flakes cereal, milk and chicken.

Wal-Mart wins the piggy bank for the tomato sauce, charging $1.48. Food City and Albertsons tied for the most expensive, each coming in at $2.49 a jar. That's $1 more.

Next up, bananas. It was a close race. Both Wal-Mart and WinCo get piggy banks for the best deal with 56 cents a pound.

Then on to an 18-ounce box of Corn Flakes. WinCo came in first at $2.58, earning a second piggy bank. Albertsons gets another ding with $4.79, which is more than $2 higher than the WinCo price.

When it comes to milk, supermarket research analyst David Livingston says it is "one of those items that every store has to be very competitive on."
The big winner again is WinCo at $1.88 a gallon, earning them a third piggy bank. The most expensive: Safeway at $2.99.

Finally, we found our biggest differences in chicken breast. Food City gets a piggy bank, offering the best deal at $1.99 a pound. The most expensive was Target at $6.99 a pound.
In our grocery wars research, WinCo came out on top and that's no surprise to Livingston.

"WinCo's a very, very smart operator and, like I say, they're going to grow very slow and methodically because they tend to have a very strong workforce," he said.

While WinCo was the winner in our survey, it's the big-box stores like Wal-Mart and Target that are eating into the competition in the Valley and nationwide.

Livingston said, "If you're looking strictly on price, most likely your price operators will be Wal-Mart, WinCo and Target."

According to a recent Forbes study, 77 percent of Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers combined bought groceries from a non-grocer last year. That number is expected to jump to 96 percent this year.

One shopper we spoke with agreed.

"I prefer Wal-Mart, definitely prefer Wal-Mart because of the prices. ... Safeway was the place to go for my grandpa but no, I’m a Wally World kind of guy and they're everywhere," that shopper said.

To get the best deals on groceries, you should always take advantage of the store loyalty cards no matter where you decide to do your shopping.