A rating of supermarket prices by an independent nonprofit research group lists Gemco as the least expensive and Mayfair as the most expensive markets.
In its most recent survey of prices at stores in eight grocery chains in San Diego County, the California Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG) determined that basket of groceries that cost $100 at Gemco would cost $125.97 at Mayfair. Thirty-three stores were included in the survey.
CalPIRG volunteers ranked the stores, from least to most expensive, as follows: Gemco, Ralphs, Food Basket, Vons, Big Bear, Safeway, Alpha Beta, Mayfair. They bought 121 items of meat, produce, dairy products, grain, staples, processed foods and other items of both store and national brands, and they bought the same items at each store.
Carmen Gonzalez of CalPIRG said the purpose of the survey is to encourage shoppers to patronize stores offering low prices. She said people can be misled by advertising campaigns citing the results of "self-designed" surveys done by the stores.
According to the survey, groceries that cost $100 at Gemco would cost $102.79 at Ralphs, $105.06 at Food Basket, $108.66 at Vons, $111.02 at Big Bear, $116.33 at Safeway, $117.47 at Alpha Beta and $125.97 at Mayfair.
"If a family spends $125 a week at Mayfair, that family could save $1,300 shopping at Gemco over a year," Gonzalez said.
The survey was conducted April 20, six months after the last CalPIRG survey, in which Ralphs had jumped from seventh to second place. Gonzalez said the group wanted to know whether Ralphs had lowered its prices temporarily to place high in the survey. Ralphs' second straight second-place position indicates that prices have probably been lowered permanently, Gonzalez said.