Price Experiment: Commissary vs. WalMart


One of the debates I often see in the comment section here at SpouseBuzz is over whether or not the commissary actually saves a person money. Not long ago we talked the impact the five percent surcharge has on your savings. But I wanted to go one step farther.

I wanted to comparison shop. I want to know, based on evidence, whether or not the commissary is really worth the trip.

I knew conducting an entirely scientific comparison shopping experiment was going to be impossible, so I set out to do the best I could. I chose to compare prices between the commissary and a civilian store to which most of us have access and I often hear referred to as “cheaper than the commissary” — WalMart.

I purchased two sets of the ingredients for beef soft tacos — one at the commissary and one at WalMart. I chose to compare this meal because the ingredients are easy to find. I also wanted to make a meal with meat so that I could include the cost of it in my experiment.

First, a few rules I followed to make the comparison as accurate as possible:

At each store I purchase the cheapest version of the ingredient in question. At the commissary that meant name-brand items. At WalMart that meant I bought some of their store-brand items.

The only exception to the “cheapest version” rule was the salsa I bought. I bought Pace Picante Sauce at both WalMart and the commissary. We all have items that we feel a strong preference towards one brand or type — and this is mine.

I did not use any coupons. Why? Because, while I do normally use coupons when I shop, I didn’t want that variable to influence this project.

And finally — you might look at this list and think “you eat tacos without ____ them?!” or “you eat tacos with ____ on them?!” And my answer is “Yes. We’re a little weird. And we’re OK with that.”

Here’s what my receipts show:


Ground beef: $3.38/$2.07

Taco seasoning: $.68/$.44

Tortillas: $1.58/$1.99

Shredded mexican blend cheese: $2.28/$1.69

Can of corn: $.68/$.79

Can of refried beans: $.85/$.75

Cilantro: $.74/$.79

Pace Picante Sauce: $1.98/$1.49

Total WalMart (including a total 7.75 percent tax of $.94 on two items — I’m not sure which two): $13.11

Total Commissary (including the 5 percent surcharge of $.50 on all items and no bagger tip since I did self-checkout on this order): $10.51

As you can see above the commissary — even with the surcharge — ends up being not quite $2.00 cheaper for this meal. You could find all of that savings just by hitting the commissary for meat and cheese and then going to WalMart for everything else.

One common statement I see on SpouseBuzz is that the WalMart generics are always cheaper than the commissary, which only carries name brands.

But if you look at the above that is not true. The items I purchase “Great Value” versions of at WalMart are: corn, refried beans, tortillas and cheese. And yet two of those — the beans and the cheese — were less in name brand versions at the commissary even if you factor in the surcharge for those items, which comes out to just under $.13.

So what’s the conclusion?

Two things:

The commissary is, according to this experiment, overall a cheaper option, especially if you live in an area with a food tax on some items like I do. … however …

If you want to put in the leg work you can keep up with commissary sales as compared to WalMart’s generic items, you may be able to find a slight savings by only hitting the commissary for meat/cheese and other items that are not available as generics.


About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.

64 Comments on "Price Experiment: Commissary vs. WalMart"

  1. Thanks for the article. I would agree that on some meals the commissary is best. Overall though, I have found in the last 20 (OMG) years that the costs are evening out. My husband and I travel a lot and will use the commissary when convenient just to support it. Normally, Wal Mart (and sometimes the local grocery store will be best. My son, in Maryland and my daughter in Virginia both refuse to go to the commissary because it's more expensive for their families.

  2. This is interesting, but my guess is on a larger scale it really doesn't make much of a difference. I'd love to see a comparison on baby items and another of meat/dairy and fresh fruits.

    • I decided not to do too many fresh fruits this time because that stuff is SO sensitive to season/distributor. But baby items would be a great comparison idea!

      • did you notice a difference in quality of the meat? I often find that buying at Kroger gets me a better product when it comes to meat. It's cheaper at the commissary for a reason I think! More than once I bought chicken with an expiration date about a week away and when I opened it it smelled more than expired. I don't shop at wal-mart so I am curious about their quality for price?

        • I won't buy meat at the commissary for the same reason… the hamburger tastes like fatty grizzle, the chicken is "chewy", and the beef is always tough, no matter how I cook it, and I can cook!!!. The only thing that is halfway decent are the ground chicken & turkey products, and turkey sausage… other than that, the other stuff TO ME is inedible!!! Like they are selling us second rate product! Most of the non-perishable items will expire in less than a year, which means they have been sitting in a warehouse somewhere for most of their shelf life. The perishable items look like they are about to rot on the shelves… very rarely, do you actually see something "look" fresh! But hey, that was just my experience in Maine (which is now closed), and Paris Island (which isn't)… And I don't remember Norfolk or VA Beach commissaries being any better!!!

  3. I will shop at locally owned or farmers markets, but I will not shop at Walmart. I have never been satisfied with their answer as to whether or not they treat their meat with additives to make it stay and appear fresher (read: red) longer. I will shop at the commissary because not only do I believe it to be cheaper but that surcharge comes back to us – the military.

    • The surcharge is for any maintenance needed for the commissary and the building. Not for the military….the building.

  4. I have found many items (mainly fruits and vegetables) at my Walmart in El Paso to be cheaper then the commissary at Ft. Bliss. However, when we lived in Hawaii, the commissary was the only way to go. Living off the economy there is insanely expensive. I guess the savings just depend on what you buy. I do still go to the commissary if I am on post, or if I want certain things I can't find elsewhere.

  5. Sarah --SBuzz | February 21, 2013 at 5:35 pm |

    I did this the last time we PCSed: I wrote a huge list of everything we would need to start over in a new kitchen, things like salt, ketchup, vinegar, toilet paper, Windex, etc. I went to both the commissary and the local Walmart and wrote down the prices for all 30 or so items. Most of the time, the commissary won. Walmart generics seem to win for things like canned beans or basic spices. And Doritos, oddly enough. It was an interesting experiment.

    I think the deciding factor for me has been time or convenience. Our last duty station, we were 5 minutes from a Walmart and 35 minutes from post and the commissary. With a twice-a-day napping toddler, it was never convenient to make the trek to the commissary and I could hit Walmart when my baby woke at the crack of dawn and get there before anyone else was out shopping. But now that we live on post, the reverse is true: we can hit the commissary with a golf ball and we're 20 minutes from Walmart. So I switched. Convenience has won that battle at each duty station, because with the price of gas what it is, driving 15 extra miles to save a few dollars seems silly.

    Both times, I have kept a running list of certain things I can only get at the commissary or Walmart, or options/brands I like better, and then making a trip there once a month. But I'm not sure that trekking all across town — or heck, across the state as some retirees do — is worth it.

  6. We prefer the commisary…we always stay on budget…we have found here at Campbell going to walmart we spend WAAAY more esp if you use the TN Walmart. However there are certian brands my kids won't eat or can't…I don't care who you are there is a deff taste difference in many generic v. name brands.

  7. I agree with Sarah! Everyone needs to also consider the price of gas into the equation because it can be hefty! I live in CA…I could walk to the commissary, and the closest Wal-Mart is 45 minutes away. Gas prices are over $4/gallon. I have a minivan and the rountrip is around 60 miles. So if I get 18 miles to the gallon, it takes approx. 3.33 gallons. And, if gas is $4/gallon, that's $13.32 in gas!!!

  8. sabrinacking | February 21, 2013 at 5:57 pm |

    My only problem with the commissary has always been produce…it always looks like it came up on Juan Valdez's donkey…but you're hard pressed to find meat cheaper anywhere. My real complaint is the PX, and the Star card…which…I could go on indefinitely about how I think it abuses junior enlisted personnel, who do not know any better by only offering things they can not afford…with a shiney gold card they can charge to the max…then AAFES just raises the limit….

    • This produce comment made me laugh out loud…. particularly because just this morning I bought 3 things of strawberries ($.99 each). I picked them off the cart as the guy was putting them out for display — they had just arrived. And they were so far gone that I had to use them tonight or toss them. What the what?

  9. I shop at Walmart and local stores when possible. For my family shopping at Walmart/local stores is usaully cheaper for us. Plus, I find that the quality of the meat I get is alot better. I don't mind paying more for something of a good quality. Plus, the incovience of having to deal with long lines at the commisary is not worth it to me.

    • Anyone who thinks the meat at Walmart is better knows little about meat! They don't have employees there who have health cards or training (I know someone whose mother was hired right off the street and went right to work in the meat dept.). I would NEVER buy any meat there. It makes me ill just thinking about it!
      If you want to shop "local stores" hit a union shop or a mom and pop. To me, this is as much a moral decision as quality issue.

  10. My son-in-law was in the Air Force (recently got out) and he believed that WalMart, Sams, Costco etc were cheaper than the Commissary. So I challenged him on it. This is in Hawaii so that may make a difference. But it was almost half as much at the commissary for groceries. Then his excuse was it was too far away. Seriously? Nothing is far away on Oahu.

  11. I have sat on the Commissary/PX Council at several posts. Perhaps something that not everyone understands about the Commissary is this: Everything that the Commissary sells, it sells for cost. In other words, it sells it to you for the exact amount it paid to purchase the product from the supplier. For instance, soda is not always cheaper at the Commissary. Larger grocery stores (Walmart, Giant, etc.) have the ability to purchase large amounts of soda and can then discount the soda and pass the savings on to you. They make up for that savings by charging more for things like meat, frozen foods and dairy products (usually the highest priced items). Larger grocery stores are in business to make a profit. That is their goal … to make money. The Commissary does not operate to make a profit. They operate to "break even." So when it comes to something like soda, the Commissary can't discount that product the way other stores can; they sell it for the exact price they pay to the vendor. Also, traditionally, Commissaries have smaller amounts of storage space behind the store, and less ability to buy huge amounts, with the exception of the bulk sales they hold several times a year. In addition, the surcharge at the Commissary is for upkeep and maintenance. Commissaries pay their larger bills quarterly (the power bill, for instance). They also use the surcharge to supply cleaning products (to clean the store). I agree with the commenter about the produce. Hands down, at the eight different Commissaries that I've shopped in, the produce was always second rate. I've never been able to get a straight answer from any Commissary manager as to why this is, however.

    • Let us also remember that we do not pay taxes for items that you do not eat but you do at WalMart, etc.
      My wife and I love to shop at the Commissary and have always saved more money shopping ther than the local stores. Hope this helps some and , SEMPER FI!!

  12. I have been stationed at San Diego, Bremerton, Dalhgren, Everett, Maine, Korea and Ft Drum in the military. At no time in 16 years in any place has the Commissary been more expensive over all then any discount chain any where. I am not loyal to any store and constantly check prices. You can always find one or two things that are cheaper then the Commissary. May be one Commissary at one place will always have poor looking vegetables or poor tasting meat. In those cases we go somewhere else. If looking at a food bill for the entire month, which is what a budget should be based off of, then nothing beats the Commissary. If you live far away from the Commissary using a tank of gas to get there and back. Then may be your local store might more cost effective when including time, fuel and vehicle maintenance.

  13. The difference being is Wal-mart is pretty consistent with their pricing where as the commissary constantly fluctuates higher and lower. So the real savings is deceiving at any given time, because the next week buying the same ingredients could be actually more expensive. Another thing if you shop supermarket sales you will almost always get a better price.

    • Sarah --SBuzz | February 26, 2013 at 8:39 pm |

      I agree! My husband likes this one kind of granola bars. Sometimes they're $1.99 and other times they're $2.68. No idea why, and the "sale" is never advertised as a sale price or anything. And I've seen chips go as low as $2 and then the next week they're $3.20. So at the low price, commissary beats Walmart, but at the high price, Walmart wins.

    • You're absolutely right. Fortunately there IS a way to see what these sales are before you hit the store. The commissary actually posts a long list of everything on sale in every store at their site. You can find it here (you have to log-in):

  14. How Much Did you would you spend on running around to different stores when everything is in one place

  15. C D Crawford | February 26, 2013 at 8:18 pm |

    above should have read: "dairy products"

  16. GA_Beach_Bum | February 26, 2013 at 9:04 pm |

    I have shopped at several commissaries over the years, and the Kings Bay commissary in Kingsland, GA, has the worst meat and produce – ever. The prices are OK – mediocre but worth the trip. Unfortunately, though, the meat is tough – SO tough – that I don't buy steaks there. I've paid $10 each for a good ribeye, only for it to be like shoe leather. I'll buy the same steak for the same price at a local market, and it's tender. And the produce? Usually growing hair right there in the cooler. Like they can't be bothered to take out the old stuff and replace it with fresh. Frustrating. I'm not much farther to the commissary at Ft. Stewart, GA, but the prices there are so much higher than Kings Bay that it's not worth the drive.

  17. I actually did a HUGE cost comparison about a month ago. I compared Wal-Mart, the Commissary, Target, Albertson's, King Soopers, Sam's Club and Whole Foods. The list of items I compared ran the whole gamut, from paper products to personal items to dairy, meat and pasta. Anything I buy on a normal, on going basis. (Colorado Springs, CO, for the curious.) Overall, I found that, even when comparing genarics, the Commissary was cheaper about 80% of the time. There are some things that are cheaper at Wal-Mart, etc. Spices for instance are SO much cheaper at Sam's Club for a lot more. But the selection is limited. Strangely enough I found that there are several items, organic milk being one, that is cheaper at Whole Foods. So I made up my mind to just keep an eye on prices. And gas doesn't matter, since most of the stores are approximately the same distance from my house, just in different directions. The only stores I don't shop at now are Albertson's, Target and King Soopers because none of their stuff beat the commissary or Wal-Mart.

  18. C D Crawford | February 26, 2013 at 9:16 pm |

    How far did you drive to each establishment and was this issue even considered in your cost analysis of shopping? I find that the commissary always has old produce and outdated dairy produces. Wallyworld carries too many items from China and foreign countries to include grocery items, we don't shop there. Local stores in our area are best!

    • I'm sorry, but that Walmart "dig" sounded an awful lot like some union stuff that was floating-around the 'net prior to 2008.

      I live very close to both WM and a large Commissary. Both sell (more or less) the same merchandise — except the Commissary doesn't sell "private label/store brand" products. I looked at a few labels of WM's "Great Value" store brand — they seem to made here in the USA, and WM seems to go out of their way by having in-store signage saying they buy a lot of local produce, which makes sense. Do you know of any specific food/grocery products that WM is selling which are Chinese-manufactured? I'd love to learn more about them…

      In the meantime, as to who is best on price depends on a few factors: Is there a sales tax on groceries in your city/state exceeding 5%? How far is the commissary from home? Is it worth the time/effort spent on/around military paydays to shop there?

      Personally, I've found both has their individual merits — as they say, YMMV…

  19. I like shopping @ the commissary. It’s cheaper than Wal-mart. To really get great BARGAINS Ladies…is to shop the commissaries on TUESDAYS. WHY?..because, Mondays the commissaries are closed. They staff restocks because of the weekend.. All prices are marked up on Thursdays. Most people buy groceries for the week on Sunday. On Tuesdays there are great bargains, markdowns, sales on items that were marked up for the weekend, especially meat, fruit n veggies. I’ve compared prices between civilian stores and commissaries. Savings are greater with commissaries….one just has to shop on the right day ( TUESDAYS is the secret) all of them operate the same way….and bring your coupons…..SAVINGS you won’t believe……I also find great bargains with the so called damaged can items as well……hope this was helpful…..oh this applies to Walmart as well. This is how they operate with there sales policies.

    • If you will also notice, prices are usually cheaper at the beginning of the month to about the 10th and then increase for the next 3 weeks or so. At least this was true back in the mid to late 90's and til 2005 in both Ft Stewart, GA and Giessen Germany (now closed)

    • I purchase the marked down fruits on Tuesdays as I make our own dehydrated fruit for snacks and to include in my own homemade instant oatmeal packets. And, fruit which is on the verge of over-ripe makes better dehydrated fruit.

  20. As with anything, it goes back to what the consumer is willing to pay. I explained to my wife that the necessity of coupons and that due to rising prices, these bring the prices back down to what we are comfortable with paying for items.
    The commissaries due have their times that prices are lower. I am not one that agrees with their pricing for things though. I have heard the argument about the cost is what we sell it for. Kindof like the bit about AAFES is supposed to take the 5 lowest gas prices and sell theirs for the average. Funny how it was always the 5 highest gas stations that they used.
    I do like the commissary for meat and such, but most other places will have sales that coupons help bring it down tremendously. Like others, sometimes stores distances are not convenient or like our Wal-Mart, access, parking, and opened registers is my deterrent. I do tend to shop more so at the commissary cause it is 10 minutes from my work on base, but not very convenient cause that means trekking all the way to the back of the base to shop there.
    All-in-all, it all depends on the consumer and convenience factor.

  21. it depends on your commissary for sure . when we travel to our time-share in Ca we are just a short drive to the Camp Pendleton comm. we love the meat in fact bring some home. we rarely go to ours in tucson as we live an hour away unless we are ready to stock the freezer.

    • Kathy that is funny that you say you shop at the commissary in Ca when you go to your time-share. We go to a time/travel share near Tucson and I always go to the commissary at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. I try to go the the bases in what ever state we are traveling to.

  22. The Commissary is a great benefit that I hope we never lose. Prices everywhere change constantly but you can rely on the Commissary to have cheaper prices most of the time. We are retired now and live about 100 miles from the closest one so it is not practical for me to shop there unless I am going to be near one for some additional reason. I feel it a great privilege to go into one any time I get a chance. In my experience prices vary from service to service and it always seemed that the AF had the best prices and selection. Remember that the Commissary is a benefit. You can use it if you desire. Please don't trash it for those of us that feel we have made sacrifices to earn the privilege to shop there. We have already lost too many of our benefits as it is. Anyone can shop at Walmart but I for one refuse to do so unless it is the only option I have. I have seen Walmart push its way into several areas that did not want it and cause other good businesses to suffer or close down. I would rather support local businesses anyday.

  23. In my few short years of couponing I've found that even without a coupon that the Commissary is usually about $0.50 or so cheaper on most name-brand items compared to Walmart. But I'll still shop at Wally World and buy the generic items because sometimes they are they same price as the name-brand items at the Commi.

  24. Cheaper maybe but not convenient. I have ICEd my commissary multiple times for not having basic produce (sweet potatoes, onions, mushrooms etc.) The isles are always cramped piled in with people. Ours is very small and almost always doesnt have something I need. I try to avoid it as much as I can. However I do drive to the next post over (30 mins away) to grocery shop there for big trips. We are in Germany and I will probably stop shopping at the commissary all together when we go back to the states. Even at Ft stewart, it was horrible. not even parking, always packed and not worth the 30 mins to get one or two items.

  25. Very interesting….thanks for this article!!

  26. So far I have been shopping at a commissary and it's always better….Not sure if anyone else lives around Riverside, CA or San Diego, CA but the shopping is insane outside the base. We bought a house and I would rather pay extra $5 for gas than to blow money away on expensive food. I tried to shop at a local store that was cheaper but the meat was so bad I had to return them. My friends and family love the commissary because they trust the food there… =)

    • I feel like San Diego, CA is the worst post we've been at in terms of food prices. It makes the commissary a necessity in a way it never was before.

  27. Latecomer. Have shopped the commissary for the past 30 years of retirement, although the closest one is 110 miles away. Even with the cost of the trip, the surcharge, and the bagger's tip (usually 4-5 dollars), I find the commissary is still about 20% cheaper. And what's more important, I consistently get better quality groceries, particularly the meats. Only the commissary makes an effort to scrutinize the source of their meats, and it pays off in terms of quality as well as safety in your foods. Sorry, no comparison for me.

  28. We have shopped at the commissary for over 30 years. We shop for a month at a time as we live an hour away from the nearest commissary. Several times through the years I have been discouraged that we are not saving any $$$, so I went to the local grocery and shopped the same list and each time we have found a a 25 – 30% savings. Certainly worth the trip for us.

  29. I won't trade the commissary for any store here in San Diego!

  30. I have kind of a system that I try to follow and it saves me enough that when I am lazy one month and stray from the system, it hurts my pocketbook! I go to the commissary once or twice a month and stock up on meat, cereal and any sale items I see. Also, razors and other personal items that I like seem to be cheaper there most of the time. I hit the Sam's club once a month and buy bulk items like flour, sugar, coffee, some vegetables, nuts are way cheaper there, etc. Then I shop the local store ads for their produce and deli meats that go on sale each week. This saves me a ton! If I go to Wal-mart and pick up the things I need or to the local grocer I will easily spend twice the budgeted amount over the course of the pay period.

  31. I refuse to shop in Walmart. They treat workers badly, the lines are no shorter than the commissary's, and the shelves are not fully stocked. At least at the commissary profits go back to MWR instead of Benton AK and the local taxing authority. I therefore buy as little as possible off base at Walmart or anywhere else.

  32. Robin Curtis | April 19, 2013 at 4:11 pm |

    How about comparing prices with Winco? There have been plenty of days I've shopped at the commissary and prices were outrageous. After I used my coupons the surcharge added everything right back on. And the produce never seems to look very good.

  33. lately, we have found Wegman's is a better deal.. not so much on pricing per se, but more on quality and freshness. the last several trips to the commissary, the fresh fruits and veggies all went bad VERY fast.. as in under a week . Wal Mart we avoid for personal reasons, but do shop at Costco for some bulk items( mainly non perishable paper goods and many bath items like toothpaste)

    doesn't do me any good to save 50 cents on a bag of salad mix if I have to toss it in the garbage after 3 days.

  34. gemini232006 | April 21, 2013 at 4:19 pm |

    I have found the commissary to always have deals that other places don't. Even with a surcharge you can save money on items that elsewhere would be a few cents to dollars more. Yes they only carry name brand, but at least they try. I remember the best thing about shopping at the commissary was the caselot sales my mom used to go to once a year. They offer a lot and have great employees. Now I live in Germany with my husband who is active Army, Sometimes the Commissary does't carry what I need at all, (look where we are)… You got a give in take in everything, You don't have to buy everything at one place. Here we are limited, we have walot of options off post but the prices can vary greatly.

  35. Nicely kept things simple and easy to follow and didn't include a lot of exotic ingredients. I enjoyed the read and the time and thought you put into it. I was raised in a military family and we did all our shopping for groceries on base. Then I married military and again we did all our grocery shopping on base. Now, we do about 95% of our grocery shopping on base and what we do off base..I definitely do not do in Walmart. We support our local farmer's market in the spring and summer and smaller mom & pop grocery stores during the winter for selected items. I prefer to support and utilize our benefits first and second the small businesses of the local community we are part of outside the base.

    What I'd love to see more of is comparisons and perhaps why, after spending three years working in one, so few people actually use the Exchange. We were at a rather remote area with seriously harsh winters and people would brave the icy roads and blizzards to go to Walmart to get things they could have gotten right on the base at the Exchange. That, I've never understood. Clothes? Well, for adults I can see why most of the time. There really isn't a large selection at most Exchanges of adult clothes and shoes. But baby items and young children items, electronics, outdoor items..usually there are pretty good selections as well as selections of hair care products and OTC medicines. I have asked friends and some of the answers I've gotten vary from "well I shop at the commissary and I don't want to buy everything on base" to "they never have my size at the exchange and I don't think it will do any good to ask". Maybe there are spouses who have already done comparison shoppings for Exchange items like you did here for the Commissary?

  36. As someone who has served and is a parent……I have shopped them all. Publix is the answer – and always will be now that I am back in Florida for good. As a single parent with 2 kids and 3 cats…….I have never been to any other store that not only stacks coupons but pays you the difference on a gift card if you are in the negative. My budget is only $50 a month for everything. It's not rocket science.

  37. When Macey;s opened here in Tooele, Utah a few years ago I did a comparison between Macey's and the commissary at Hill AFB from my shopping receipt from the commissary and commissary won then a Super Wall Mart opened and I did the same comparison and the commissary won again. It is a lot farther to the commissary, but I also get perscriptions which make up for the gas spent to get there and I get to visit with family while I am in the area, so for me it is well worth the trip to the commissary. My commissary at Hill AFB, Utah has very good produce and delicious meat couldn't ask for better.

  38. When I was in the Navy I did a comparison between the commissary and Kroger's in Virginia Beach. Kroger's won hands down. Their prices are not far off and their quality is superior. I also saved money because they have a pharmacy that takes Tricare so you don't have to drive to the clinic to get meds (saving gas). Plus the fuel points program saves me between $.30-$.40 a gallon. Its a one stop shop!

  39. I am not sure if you were aware but the sales "flyer" items are actually listed on the commissary website under "what's on sale" for every single commissary in the world. Sales do typically run for 3 weeks at a time on their "national" sales and similarly on "manager's specials" and are listed so you can see item, size and price. They change date does occur midweek and the dates are shown at top of list. It's a very handy tool and I have found it very helpful so I can stock up on things when I see they are exceptionally low.

  40. JAMES A. CRONIN | August 12, 2014 at 11:05 pm |

    In recent months, I've noticed that the prices at the Smoky Point Commissary are significantly higher on many items than they are at Winco. (And that's before the 5% surcharge!)

    It would appear to me that the DoD is intentionally trying to put itself out of the grocery business. I've read several articles to that effect. I'm wondering if what they are doing is intentionally pricing themselves out of the market so they can say "See, hardly anybody even shops at the commissaries."

    It strikes me as being very odd that the commissary system advertises that they sell their goods at cost, which is the reason that they charge the 5% surcharge. Even with this, they bemoan that they are still in the hole.

    All the time, Winco can sell the same items and make a profit. (Without the 5% surcharge!) It's not like the commissary system is a small-bit player in the market with $5.9 Billion gross sales in 2013.… Somebody is either paying way too much for the inventory, or there's a serious "leak" in what should be "profits."

    I suspect that something is seriously rotten in Denmark.

  41. i live over 100 miles away from the closest Commissary i am south of Provo UT it would not save me money to shop at the Commissary store unless i had to go to S L C for another reason first i rather shop their but its too far so i have to go to wallmart

  42. I think it really depends where you live and if there is food tax. I have found that it is far cheaper for me to shop at the commissary and I also think that the meat at Wal Mart is not very good in the cases that I have seen. I have seen a lot of meat that is going bad at Wal Mart. I myself prefer the brand names. I have pets and I have found that pet food and products are far less at the commissary then at other stores.

  43. Regardless of the price I wont go to Walmarts in my area. Even the nice neighborhoods have badly maintained, rarely cleaned walmarts, with long lines and the worst parking lots known to man. I dont coupon and rarely shop the circulars because good stuff rarely goes on sale. If you dont eat anything packaged, boxed, canned and dont use commerical/chemical household products or beauty products you're not going to find many if any coupons or drastic sales on your staples. My local natural store is cheaper on bulk goods,natural cosmetics, bulk spices and produce (much better quality as well). Everything else the commissary wins hands down.

  44. Erin — I do tend to find that if I watch the sales Target, etc. are going to be a better bet on things like over the counter drugs (since they both have a generic and commissary does not). My problem at Target isn't the cost of the things I go into to buy –it's the cost of the extra stuff that somehow lands in my basket ;-)

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