What NOT to Buy at the Drugstore

Last Updated Oct 6, 2011 2:43 PM EDT

It never occurs to me to do my grocery shopping at the drugstore -- although my local Duane Reade pharmacy has recently been making a strong push for it by expanding its food aisles and adding ready-to-eat meals.

But it turns out that plenty of people do find it convenient to one-stop-shop -- and they're paying for the privilege, according to a new survey.

ConsumerWorld.org, a consumer education web site, just conducted a pricing survey in the Boston area, tracking 25 common grocery items -- both foods and household products. It found the average drugstore charged 50% more than the least expensive supermarket: $102.94 vs. $68.55 for the basket of goods studied.

Stores in the survey included: Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, Stop & Shop, Shaw's and Market Basket. (An earlier MoneyWatch package found a more nuanced set of choices for CVS shoppers: Cereal and bottled water were no-nos, but milk was actually cheaper than at the supermarket.)
Among the drugstore chains, Rite Aid proved the priciest, with the 25 items adding up to $107.96; CVS was the least expensive, at $98.12. Meantime, among the supermarkets, the receipt from Shaw's had the biggest total at $83.56, while Market Basket had the lowest at $68.55.

Here's a breakdown of some of the wide price comparisons from the survey:

Planter's Peanuts 16 oz.
  • Drugstore prices: $3.59 - $4.99
  • Supermarket prices: $2.99 - $3.00

Edy's Grand Ice Cream 48 oz.
  • Drugstore prices: $5.99 to $6.49
  • Supermarket prices: $2.99 to $5.99 (the lower price was thanks to a buy-one-get-one sale)
Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream 16 oz.
  • Drugstore prices: $5.99 to $6.49
  • Supermarket prices: $3.49 to $5.77
Oreo's Double Stuff 16.6 oz.
  • Drugstore prices: $4.99 to $6.29
  • Supermarket prices: $3.49 to $5.77
Special K Cereal 12 oz.
  • Drugstore prices: $4.19 to $5.29
  • Supermarket prices: $2.99 to $3.39
Lipton Tea Bags 100-count
  • Drugstore prices: $3.79 to $5.19
  • Supermarket prices: $2.99 to $3.49
Maxwell House Coffee 11.5 oz.
  • Drugstore prices: $5.49 to $6.99
  • Supermarket prices: $3.49 to $4.99
Campbell's Chunky Beef Soup
  • Drugstore prices: $3.29 everywhere
  • Supermarket prices: $1.67 to $2.99
Tide 100 oz.
  • Drugstore prices: $15.29 to $17.49
  • Supermarket prices: $11.99 (all on sale)
Finish Dishwasher 20 tabs
  • Drugstore prices: $5.79 to $6.49
  • Supermarket prices: $3.99 to $4.99
Windex 26 oz.
  • Drugstore prices: $3.39 to $4.49
  • Supermarket prices: $2.99 to $4.29
Farnoosh Torabi is a personal finance journalist and commentator. She is the author of the new book Psych Yourself Rich, Get the Mindset and Discipline You Need to Build Your Financial Life. Follow her at www.farnoosh.tv and on Twitter/farnoosh
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    Farnoosh Torabi is a personal finance journalist and commentator. She is the author of the new book Psych Yourself Rich, Get the Mindset and Discipline You Need to Build Your Financial Life. Follow her at www.farnoosh.tv and on Twitter at @farnoosh.

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