National grocery stores in price war

Renae Geraldi, left, and C.J. Miller shop for groceries at Lorenzo's Supermarket in North Miami, Fla.

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Steve Chiotakis: Maybe you got a nice surprise your last trip to the grocery store. A lower bill. After sky-rocketing last year, food prices are on the decline. Marketplace's Stacey Vanek-Smith has more.


Stacey Vanek-Smith: It seems like everything is on sale at my local grocery store.
Milk is on special for $3.49, cranberry juice on special, two for $6 . . .

Welcome to recession supermarket price wars. On the West Coast, Vons has put nearly one in every five items on sale. Out East, Giant Foods has doubled the number of sale items. Chains across the country are all cutting prices. But weren't these same stores jacking up prices last year?

Harry Balzer studies food marketing at NPD group. He says gas prices lower than last year are part of it. The other part? Cash-strapped Americans refused to spend more on food.

Harry Balzer: Consumers said look, I'm going to moderate my food costs, are you going to be with me or not? And you could certainly see some of the discount supermarkets who are doing very well, and the other supermarkets had to follow suit.

Balzer said a few years ago, supermarkets were wooing shoppers with sushi bars and fancy wine selections. But these days, cost is king.

Wine is $5.99 a bottle -- but if you buy 6 or more, it's only $5.39. Guess we need to load up on wine!

In Los Angeles, and heading to the Alka Selzer aisle, I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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