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Saving money at discount grocery stores

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ATLANTA -

Our grocery bill is one of our biggest monthly expenses and it can really add up. But changing where you shop could save you some cash.
           
Discount grocery store chains ALDI and Save-A-Lot have locations all over metro Atlanta and they're expanding rapidly. They pledge to take a big bite out of your grocery bill.

"[There is a] 40 percent difference in the cost at a traditional market as opposed to a Save-A-Lot," said Nicole Gray, store manager at Save-A-Lot.

ALDI's Director of Operations, Krysta Cearley, says you can save up to 50 percent by switching from national brands to their exclusive brands.

How do they do it? By being different.

When you arrive, you'll need a quarter to get a shopping cart. When you are done shopping and have put the cart back, you'll get your quarter back.

"That simple system allows us to avoid paying someone to coral the carts throughout the day," said Cearley.

Once inside you'll notice both stores are no frills: No pharmacies, banks, or photo processing.
There are also fewer items on the shelves, about 1200 Save-A-Lot products and 1400 ALDI products. All are based on what's most popular with shoppers. Most of the products are store brand items, but some items are also name brand products.

So, whether you're coming in for the name brands or to try out the store labels, how low are the prices? Good Day Atlanta's Gurvir Dhindsa set off with her shopping list of nine popular items, to find out. The prices on all of the items were similar at both ALDI and Save-A-Lot. She paid a little more than $12 at both stores for these items:

Peanut butter
Jelly
Canned green beans
Canned corn
Spaghetti sauce
Spaghetti noodles
Orange juice
Yogurt
Wheat bread

Back in February, Gurvir did the same experiment at metro Atlanta's biggest grocery chains: Kroger, Publix, and Walmart. The totals on the name brand products at those stores were all a little more than $20. The totals at ALDI and Save-A-Lot were much lower, about a 37 percent savings.

Compared to the big name stores' generic brands, it was closer. Publix and Walmart were a little more than $14, meaning the discount chains were about an 11 percent savings.

However, Kroger brand products were the lowest of all. They totaled a little more than $11, around a dollar lower than the discount chains.

Another difference you'll notice at ALDI is when you check out, you'll need to bag your own groceries. It's another way they keep costs and overhead down, and pass savings on to you.
Save-A-Lot has that policy elsewhere in the country, except for here in the south, where they wanted to add that extra bit of hospitality.

Web links:

ALDI
Save-A-Lot

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