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Prices jump at eight of nine Bis-Man supermarkets

By   /   September 24, 2012  /   3 Comments

Have you noticed grocery prices have risen sharply at many of the local supermarkets?

Yeah, we spotted that too.

(Photo by Matt Bunk) Grocery prices rose by 8 percent during the past year at this Central Market in Bismarck, according to the Examiner's annual price survey.

The Great Plains Examiner conducted its annual price survey at the nine largest supermarkets in Bismarck-Mandan on Aug. 11 to help shoppers find the best prices and save money on their grocery bills.

We sent reporters to each supermarket to compare prices on 40 basic grocery items – the same items we surveyed last year. We did our best to compare the same brands and weights, and when that wasn’t possible we found the closest match. Regular prices, not sale prices, were used in the survey.

Like last year’s survey, we added the total cost of all the items on our list to determine which supermarkets had the highest and lowest prices. But this year we also did the math to see how much prices had risen at each store compared to a year ago.

The survey showed prices were higher at eight of the nine supermarkets than they were in August 2011when the Examiner’s last survey was conducted – Cash Wise Foods was the only supermarket in which prices were lower than they were a year ago. The rest of the supermarkets increased their prices by anywhere from less than 1 percent to 9.4 percent.

Some items cost less than they did a year ago, while many others were more expensive – especially Jiff Creamy Peanut Butter, which was about 85 cents higher than last year at each of the supermarkets in the survey.

A few items appeared to be the same price as last year, but further inspection revealed that the contents were diminished. The average price for Oreos and Chips Ahoy snacks remained static, for instance, although Nabisco had decreased the weight in each package by more than an ounce.

When we added the prices of all items on our list, the two Walmarts were once again the least expensive. Cash Wise Foods, which lowered its prices by 2.8 percent compared to last year, was next. The four Dan’s Supermarket stores trailed behind. And the Central Market stores in Mandan and Bismarck were the most expensive after raising prices by 9.4 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively.

For comparison, the price of groceries in the Midwest region increased an average of 2.3 percent during the past year, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The region includes the following states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

The full results of the Examiner’s grocery survey are available by clicking this link (you have to right-click on the image to make it large enough to read). We did the legwork, but you’ll have to decide which supermarkets are the most competitive. You may not buy all of the items we used in our survey, and sale prices may alter the results at each store.

-Matt Bunk is publisher of the Great Plains Examiner.


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  1. tom rubel says:

    The wages for supermarket help in these areas have sky rocketed. Entry level at $17 per hour , if you can find them. What else would one expect when wages are higher here than in union markets in Chicago and NY.

  2. sum doofus says:

    The only place grocery wages are $15+/hour in ND is at distribution warehouses of certain grocery chains in the state. There is some union involvement in the warehouses, and the jobs are grueling, as the workers pick the products off the shelf at a fast pace, stack them on a pallet, shrinkwrap it, and load them onto the trucks.

    This is a good article, based on a decent data set.

    As hinted at in the article, grocery prices are set by regions. So if someone tells you that groceries are cheaper in Minneapolis, you can laugh in their face, because the stores will be pretty consistently priced throughout that region, only varying a few percent between the different store chains.

    Cashwise is actually trying to compete with Walmart head on. They even have Little Dukes gas stations to compete with Sam’s Club gas stations in markets throughout the region, which is something the other stores are not involved with. The other chains seem to be focusing on niches like deli, higher quality discount store brands, specialty services, and (hopefully) better customer service. Even though I’m a complete cheapskate, I find myself haunting the more expensive stores for products that may be of higher quality, or have an actual better price per pound due to differences in packaging.

    The Bis/Man Central Market owners are in the same family that owns the Marketplace stores in Minot. Could they have incurred some extra operating costs during the Minot flood?

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