FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A CBS11 investigation studied the difference in prices of household items online and in various stores –– it may just change the way some shop.
We put together a list of 25 common products that many use every day. Then, we did some secret shopping at six North Texas stores and online to find out where we could get the best prices.
LeeAnna McMullen of Plano is a mother of two and a bargain shopper. So, CBS11 asked her to help us check the price of a 64-load bottle of Tide detergent. We checked the price at Walgreens, then Walmart and finally online. We’ll get to the actual price in a moment, but shopping around like this is a way of living for McMullen.
“We have to make it work otherwise we wouldn’t be able to pay the bills,” she said.
She admits we all get in a hurry, but believes you should never have to pay more for convenience or necessity.
“I’d say you need to do a little bit of research,” McMullen said.
CBS 11 did some research going on a mission to find the best place to shop for nearly two dozen household items. We compared the regular prices at discount stores, grocery stores, drug stores, and online retailers. The biggest difference we found is with pain relievers. Aleve costs $11.79 at Tom Thumb, but the same product was $7.99 at Target.
As for double-A batteries, the regular price of a four pack of Duracell batteries at Walgreens is $6.49, but at Walmart we found them for 40 percent less at $3.77.
In fact, the discount stores typically had the best prices on our list. Walmart had the lowest price more than half the time.
Drug stores had the highest prices for most of the items on our list, with Walgreens at the top closely followed by CVS. But, discount stores were not the best place to buy everything.
Take facial cleansers, for instance. We found the lowest prices for three brands online. At Drugstore.com, Aveeno Positively Radiant sold for $11.99 versus $17.99 at Walgreens and CVS, and $14.97 at Walmart. Over at Amazon.com, we found Neutrogena’s Pink Grapefruit cleanser for $5.99, but it sold for $8.99 at Walgreens and $6.97 at Walmart.
“You may get lower prices, but make sure you don’t pay shipping,” advised Jody Rohlena, editor of Shop Smart Magazine. “If you’ve got to spend $25 to get free shipping, it’s generally worth it.”
Rohlena says Shop Smart Magazine recently conducted its own nationwide study surveying the prices of 66 different products.
The magazine’s study and our own revealed cosmetics and pain relievers are often the most expensive at grocery stores. But with other products like laundry detergent and deodorant, the grocery stores were competitive in their pricing.
“We found really surprisingly that supermarkets did not do too badly on these products,” Rohlena said.
Now, remember our “unofficial” shopping expert, LeeAnna McMullen? She still stops at Walgreens and CVS every week, but she’s armed with loyalty cards and coupons, which cuts her bill down significantly.
So, let’s go back to the Tide detergent. We found that CVS charged more for this product at $17.99 versus Walmart’s lowest price of $11.97.
CBS 11 did not compare bulk prices, which can also make a big difference.