Editor’s Note: The California Aggie sent reporter Vanna Le to take the Nugget Market Price Survey, which compares Nugget and competitors’ prices in Davis.
Because grocery store prices vary by store and produce prices change rapidly, it’s always difficult to determine which grocery stores actually do maintain low prices.
I recently visited the Nugget Market on East Covell Boulevard after hearing about the “Nugget Market Price Survey,” hoping to gain some insight into the world of competitive grocery store pricing.
The survey invites local shoppers to write down a list of 25 regularly bought grocery store items, along with Nugget and their competitor’s prices. To keep things fair, the items must be of the same brand and size from both stores.
This may seem like a tedious amount of work, but the incentive lies within a $1,000 Nugget gift card awarded monthly to a raffle contest winner.
“We’ve been doing this for about two years, and we’ve found that eight out of 10 times, our prices are definitely lower,” said Kate Stille, director of marketing for Nugget Market.
They aren’t afraid to publicize their results either. Above the entranceway next to the Nugget Deli section is a scoreboard where survey results are announced to the general public.
“People tend to have the perception that Nugget may be more expensive, but this isn’t always the case,” Stille said. “And the reason is because a lot of the items we do carry are specialty items that you can’t find at standard conventional stores.”
She said that the best way to do a comparison between prices is to take the survey – which was exactly what I set out to do.
Filling up 25 items wasn’t difficult at all; I racked up my list with common items that a college student might purchase – such as bread, cereal, soymilk, vegetables and a plentiful supply of coffee and energy drinks. The competing store of choice was Safeway.
Upon completion of the survey, I met with Dave Wilson, store director of the Nugget Market. We calculated the total prices from each store and compared them: Nugget’s total was $62.39 and Safeway at $77.28 – the difference being $14.89.
“People always come back surprised after taking the survey. But we’re dedicated to having lower prices,” Wilson said. “We spend hundreds of hours a week on pricing, and we have a team of crew members who physically gets out there to check prices.”
The Nugget prices on my item list turned out to be cheaper for the most part. When they weren’t, the prices were relatively similar by a few cents.
A half gallon of Silk soymilk, for example, was $3.29 at Safeway and $3.69 at the Nugget. Items such as Golden Grain spaghetti and Jell-O mix sold for the same prices.
“I only shop at the Nugget Market when I’m looking for something specific, such as organic fruits or a certain product,” said Amy Pham, a junior managerial economics major. “Most of the time, I’ll shop at Safeway because the things I usually buy are cheaper there.”
Rebeca Wolfe, a senior psychology major said that she usually shops at the Nugget.
“I found that the prices are kind of similar anyway,” she said. “There’s also a better variety here, such as non-meat foods and Earth-friendly products.”
Unlike their typical competitors, Wilson said that the Nugget Market doesn’t have a major reliance on advertisements. Rather, they have a Twitter and Facebook page, and prefer to depend on word of mouth.
“Our guests make us who we are, as well as the quality of our services and our values. Our produce, for example, is locally grown,” Wilson said. “And we have a deli and bakery that prepares food fresh from scratch.”
The Nugget Market encourages all of their guests to take the Price Survey Challenge in order to determine which prices are cheaper.
“The Price Survey shows our willingness to compare prices,” said Eric Lam, a shift manager at the Nugget Market. “Even though we aren’t always going to have the lowest prices on everything, the fact that we aren’t afraid to put ourselves out there and present the challenge really says something.”
For more information about the Nugget Markey Price Survey, visit a nearby Nugget store or nuggetmarket.com.
VANNA LE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.