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RETAIL : Stater Brothers Prices Are Best, Says Study by Cal State Fullerton

September 03, 1993|Greg Johnson

When it comes to grocery store prices, each chain lays claim to the lowest.

According to a survey conducted by C.S. Kohli,an associate professor of marketing at Cal State Fullerton, Stater Brothers Markets has bragging rights in Orange County.

Kohli developed a supermarket price index that uses Stater Brothers as the base, with a ranking of one.

Following closely behind are Smith's Food & Drug Centers (1.03); Lucky Food Centers (1.05); Albertson's Food Centers (1.06); Vons (1.09); Hughes Market (1.10); Alpha Beta Co. (1.11) and Ralphs Grocery Co. (1.13).

Kohli based his findings on grocery store receipts that his students gathered from families, friends and shoppers.

Kohli said that random approach ensured that the survey incorporated items that a wide variety of shoppers purchase on a regular basis. He settled on that option rather than simply picking certain items out of a hat and subsequently checking prices at eight different grocery chains in Orange County.

"We tried to diversify to the greatest extent possible," Kohli said. "That would have left us with a survey that looked too much like students."

Kohli, who described the survey results as "reliable," grew interested in grocery prices "because I was hearing commercials all the time, very conflicting ones ... and whichever (commercial) you listened to said they were the low-price leader."

"In these times, a family's grocery budget easily runs $500 (monthly) for a family of four," Kohli said. "Every (store) gives its own study, but they're not believable. Our study showed (grocery prices) from a consumer perspective."

The study also gave Fullerton marketing students an opportunity to use skills learned in the classroom.

Kohli acknowledged that the study wasn't perfect. "We did not take into account coupons, double coupons.... That makes the comparison really difficult, and then there's the problem of which consumers use and don't use coupons."

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