Study: 30 Percent Savings at Commissary? Um, No.

commissary-meat-shopper-777

Results of a mostly annual survey conducted by the commissary system has shown that shoppers annually save about 30 percent by shopping at the commissary instead of civilian stores. And now a new, long-awaited study says what many patrons have long suspected — that 30 percent is not actually accurate.

Instead, they say, the savings is between 16 and 21 percent, depending on where you are shopping. At the lowest-priced near-by competitor they sampled, the savings averaged 16 percent. At the second-lowest, it averaged 21 percent. The lowest priced store, the report says, was most often Walmart.

The devil of the “30 percent” finding was always in the details. That survey compared several hundred identical items at both stores over a 26 week period. Pace salsa at the commissary, for example, was compared to Pace salsa at every store within a certain radius. Only items with UPC symbols were compared, so fresh meat packaged in store, for example, was left out. Generic and store-brands were also excluded because they didn’t match what was at the commissary. A 30 percent average annual savings finding was the result.

 

The new study, conducted by the Boston Consulting Group on behalf of the Defense Department, did their survey differently. They visited 51 commissaries and their surrounding areas in March and April of this year. There they compared identical items as well as generic store brands to the “value” items at the commissary. They also included applicable taxes.

So what, specifically, did they find? Here are a few details:

– How much you save depends on where you live. That’s kind of obvious, but it’s good to note anyway. Shoppers at Fort Myer, Virginia, which is in the high cost of living D.C. region, saved between 20 and 25 percent by shopping at the commissary. Those at Fort Hood, Texas saved more like 10 to 15 percent.

– How much you save depends on what you’re buying. Meat savings actually do approach that 30 percent mark — if you buy meat at the commissary instead of the cheapest place in town, you are averaging a savings of about 29 percent. But it’s all down hill from there. Dairy, the report says, is an average of 24 percent cheaper, frozen goods are 22 percent less, produce is 20 percent less, non-food items are 12 percent less, beverages are 8 percent less and general grocery items like mac and cheese (a category in which civilian stores carry the bulk of their generic brand) is only a 6 percent savings.

(Want one takeaway from that? Buy your meat at the commissary.)

Here’s the thing you’re probably not going to like: all of this savings data was used by the study’s authors to fuel a much bigger recommendation. Instead of parading around the 30 percent number, they said, the commissary should embrace the 16 to 21 percent savings information ….

… And lawmakers should allow the commissary to raise or (in a few cases, like meat) lower their prices to reflect that average window of savings in every market by setting prices by region.

That means those of you shopping at Fort Meyer would probably see across the board price increases as costs go up to only be 16 to 21 percent less than those at the cheapest nearby civilian store. And shoppers at Fort Hood might actually see price decreases.

That proposal has a long way to go before actually being any kind of law or rule that we see happen. So for now you can just add it to the long parade of proposed ideas for changing the commissary system.

Want to know what else the report recommended? Go here to read the news story. 

 

Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com 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 CNN.com, 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.
  • STEVE

    Said it on active duty and am saying it now, CLOSE ALL COMMISARYS EXCEPT FOR THOSE IN VERY REMOTE LOCATIONS (NELLIS COMMISARY OPEN, REALLY? NOT ONE OTHER STORE IN VEGAS?) AND OVERSEAS, PERIOD. A HUGE WASTE OF TAXPAYER MONEY, PERIOD!

    • Guest

      Have you seen the part of Las Vegas that Nellis is in? I just looked it up and it’s a food desert inside of a real desert.

      Not only do commissaries keep our troops from having to drive miles to get to a grocery store that isn’t a 7-11, but they provide a healthy alternative to the fast-food in the exchange system.

      Go to any commissary from 10-14 and you’ll see lines of camo buying salads, sushi, sandwiches, and fresh fruit for their lunch. These guys often don’t have a place to store cold food during the workday, and the caloric content of meals at BK/McD’s add up.

      The commissary provides an excellent way to get standardized food at standardized prices no matter where one is stationed, and is a great benefit to those who live and work on base no matter the location.

      • Wayne Perry

        More often the troops are in line at the Exchange getting pizza, a steak sandwich, tacos, burgers and Asian food. Or outside the Exchange getting a kabob, gyro, gumbo or something deep fried.

        You make a great argument, but the commissary deli isnt enticing the bulk of the force to eat there. However, if more people talked about it like you just did, maybe they would.

        I would also agree the commissary is an excellent way of getting standardized food at standardized pricing. However I would NEVER refer to it as a benefit as I personally view affordable shopping in a grocery store that is like a hometown grocer a cost of doing business. Calling it a “benefit” makes it sound like something everyone recieves something from. For my E5 family of 4, we still find a better value on the economy.

        Is it “beneficial” to have affordable groceries in our community? I think so. But I rebuke the notion that it is a $4000+ yearly benefit to our troops as advocates and DeCA have reported.

        • boxerrebellion1

          I don’t know how you find a better value on the economy. The Commissary regularly beats our BJ’s prices (and do I REALLY need a dozen boxes of mac & cheese at a time) and my Mom’s Costco… in fact, the price of commissary 93% lean regularly beats any 90%, or even 85% lean meat I can find by over a dollar a pound. Same with dairy… we usually save over a dollar per gallon at the Commissary, making it worth the one hour drive (for major grocery shopping) even though there are a half dozen groceries (Safeway, Martin’s, Shopper’s, Giant, Food Lion) within ten minutes. During the summer, we have farm stands (local grown) that we use, but otherwise, I prefer the Commissary for produce also.

          • Wayne Perry

            I really do stick to shopping sales more often than not on the important things. Since I dont have to work (even as the spouse of only an E5) I shop usually twice a week while I am out and about. Between 2 stores I can easily match if not beat the commissary. Actually, I will always beat the commissary because of the extensive line of store brand items we use.

            My family spent a number of years mostly living off food stamps before my wife joined. While it does teach a lot of bad habits, it also teaches some good ones.

            Another reason is we have basic meals. We dont ever try replicate fine dining. Meat, potato and vegetable type of thing. And sadly, we do go with a lot of canned/frozen vegetables because of cost. Of course we do have our fresh fruits and veggies, but I never did like the selection the commissary had unless I was using it that night.

          • Wayne Perry

            Today I bought my 93% meat for $3.99/lb which is pretty much the most I will ever pay for it unless mama is really wanting a cheeseburger for dinner.

            Chicken thighs were also marked half off and picked up for $.85/lb.

            And this was at a Safeway.

            Im not saying the commissary doesnt have value. Im saying it isnt a $3000-4500 benefit for the bulk of the shoppers. And nowhere close.

            When a lawmaker reads that my family is recieving a 30% grocery discount that is worth that much money, they think they can reform other benefits that much easier because they think we are getting an awesome grocery benefit.

            The commissary is affordable and convenient shopping that can very often be cheaper than economy shopping. But it isnt 30% cheaper on the overall family grocery budget like DeCA has advertised for years.

          • boxerrebellion1

            Our commissary also has 93% for $3.99, however our Safeway has multi-pound packs of 90% for $4.99… single pound packs are even more expensive… and that’s 90% vs. 93%. The commissary is in an even more expensive area than ours (the county that the commissary is in is one of the most expensive in the country), we live an hour away – so I go whenever I am on Base anyway. For health reasons, we eat white meat chicken and don’t buy bone-in, so I don’t really do the per pound thing for chicken, more the per whatever pound bag. We actually get good produce at our commissary, and that was also true in the last area we lived before we were overseas (we only returned a year ago). I’ve not been happy with the produce at our local groceries – but during local season, I shop farm stands (small local farms).

  • guest

    So basically, if you avoid those center aisle, the commissary is still an excellent deal. I’ll happily take 20% savings on produce (which I do), dairy, and meat. I don’t eat processed foods, which you say have the least savings- maybe that’s why I’ve always found the commissary to be such a great deal.

    • Amy_Bushatz

      That’s the kind of shopping we do here, too — I venture into center aisles for a small handful of things. Everything else is a total score around the perimeter.

    • Wayne Perry

      Here in the Pacific Northwest we have Winco. In Kansas we had Dillon’s. In Texas HEB. All run sales that the commissary can’t touch their meat prices on and for those families who eat like my family do, more in season and on sale, we still don’t see anything close to that 20%.

      One of the things we have learned to do as we try to shop on a budget is create our meals based on whats on sale, not what we want. Which is something we can’t do at the commissary since they don’t advertise their prices. And if I had to choose which place to walk in to stock up on some meat, I would choose Winco. Two weeks ago I went ahead and gave the commissary a shot thinking I would try stocking up on meat. Chicken breasts were $2.99 and boneless country style ribs were $3.49. I typically refuse to pay more than $1.99 for either.

      We sadly do rely more on canned and frozen veggies so the produce we buy is something hard to comment on except to say prices are comparable yet quality at economy stores is SUPERIOR to what the commissary has been known to carry in their produce section.

      And I think if we actually look inside the carts of the bulk of the force, no matter how much we hope they aren’t putting processed foods in their carts, the truth is they are. And I am sure commissary sales numbers would support that eating habits are similar. So if the majority of the people are in the center aisles, we have to think of them too.

      • Michael W.

        Winch is new to Texas. But I do comparison shopping and I do believe they have the best prices. Since the nearest commissary is 45 minutes away, I only go on base when absolutely necessary. As a retiree, I must budget everything when comparing prices

      • guest

        I’ve lived in KS and if you’re close to the base, the commissary can’t be beat. But then maybe that’s because I prefer very high quality produce and meat. And don’t even get me started on how HEB in TX thinks only potatoes, lettuce, and tomatoes constitute vegetables. They may be cheap but diversity is not their strong suit.
        For someone trying to eat mostly fresh and healthy, the commissary is definitely the way to go.

        • Wayne Perry

          My family eats fresh, and sometimes healthy. But as I said, we buy things in season and on sale. But this may have to do more with our income rather than our choices. Quality meat is expensive. So we end up with the steroid injected food. Just like many other middle class Americans. Sure we could sacrifice other areas of our life but all of us choose where to allot our money and with the resources we have been given, we do often score our meat from the, as my father in law puts it, “green meat bin”.

          The commissary is affordavle shopping. It isnt the “benefit” advocates and DeCA were saying and to even call it a benefit in the same breath as BAH, pay, healthcare and retirement is ludicrous.

          It is affordable shopping in our communities. Very little more savings and a whole lot less options to expand purhasing power.

          If we cant get a private company into run our grocery stores, then we just need to be honest and say “this is what it costs to run a grocery store for no profit while keep groceries affordable.”

          Enough having it figured into our troops compensation. As min wage increases, no parent I know will use the commissary as a recruiting pitch to their kid on why they should join beyond their call to serve.

    • Bob Johnson

      Drop that 20% savings to 14% when you figure in the 6% surcharge.

  • Stan

    I’m not sure just what the hoopla is all about. Whether the savings are generally @ 30%, or generally @16-21%, the point is things usually cost LESS at the commissary. That’s the whole idea behind it….So when you see/hear politicians or beancounters playing with numbers to try and justify killing commissary benefits or markedly reducing them, you have to understand they don’t CARE about the ‘commissary benefit’. It’s just another ploy to reduce overall benefits for military folks. When I first joined the Navy (yes decades ago), and throughout my naval career, I was periodically reminded that my paycheck was calculated based on a number of ‘indirect’ pay sources, commissary savings being one of them. For a number of years, that was actually reflected on our LES (some words to the effect “If all your additional benefits were considered, your actual gross pay would be…”) So don’t let these jerks get away with it – it’s just another reduction/cap in pay by a different method.

    • Wayne Perry

      For my E5 family of 4(which is sort of JR Enlisted) we are less concerned about what the commissary touts as savings as we are what people say the benefit is worth to us.

      We are adults. We can choose where we want to shop. And if the commissary saves someone else money who are we to say otherwise. But to say it saves us 30% (or even 16-21%) makes it sound like a “benefit”. However it could only be a benefit if the numbers they say are true and accurate.

      Even at the 16-21% it still sounds like a better deal to my family than it is. And a great number of military families agree as has been evident by the number of families who have spoken out about the false sense of savings.

      Lawmakers are reforming military compensation. It’s already happening. Including major reforms like retirement. So as they are considering these key issues, they shouldn’t be reading reports that say if a service member/retiree shops exclusively at the commissary they will save XX% or XX dollars. Unless they are willing to break their commissary report down to “price per ounce” as well as finding a way to calculate weekly circulars of other grocers.

      Funding the commissary is a cost of keeping affordable shopping inside the installation gates. For the 80% of eligible shoppers who live beyond the installation gates, is it really a “benefit” to drive to the commissary. Perhaps once it was. But clearly the new report would make one think otherwise.

      • guest

        Obviously no one can regulate what people purchase at the commissary. If you’re only buying items with 6% savings, then yeah it might not seem helpful. If on the otherhand you are buying items for which the savings is significant, then it makes a difference. Walking out of the commissary with a cart full including 2 cases of lettuce, as well as tons of other fruits, vegetables, and fish this week to feed an entire family for under $110, I don’t think the commissary can be beat- but again it’s all about what people choose to buy and eat.

        • Wayne Perry

          DeCA and military advocates say(had been saying) an E5 family of 4 will save $4000(some newer reports say 3k) per year. I assure you, this is not true. And if that isnt true, then what is?

          The commissary isnt a “benefit” no matter how beneficial it is to the community.

          • guest

            Actually I find it a PHENOMENAL benefit. We don’t buy processed junk like it sounds like you do since you claim only a 6% savings rate, we shop the perimeter and the organics sections. Prices of various things are about HALF the normal price of any of the larger stores around me. Bacon two weeks ago, with a coupon, came to 1.50 a lb…it 5-7 a lb at all three of our local stores…including at your beloved Walmart.

          • Wayne Perry

            The 6% I found was an independent market basket study with almost 70 popular items.

            I estimate if I shopped at the commissary exclusively I would add to my monthly budget since we depend on store brand for much of our household list.

  • JOHN MARKIEWICZ

    Something not mentioned is the 5% surcharge at the Commissary – here in Jacksonville we have a 7% sales tax, but it is only on non-food items, whereas the 5% surcharge at the Commissary is on everything so the Commissary shoppers are effectively paying more in surcharges than non-Commissary shoppers are paying in sales taxes. Many years ago, when I was first retired, I and my wife religiously shopped the Commissary, but then rather than drive 30 minutes or more each way we started comparison shopping with a standard grocery list, shopping one week at the Commissary, one week at Publix, one week at Winn-Dixie and one week at Wal-mart. Our resulting grocery shopping list averaged out about the same or within a buck or two no matter which store we shopped, except we did not have the long drive each way burning a couple gallons of gas each time we went to the Commissary. As gasoline prices went up that couple gallons of gas wiped out any savings at the Commissary. I now never bother shopping the Commissary or the Exchange for that matter as I can beat the exchange prices in town any day of the week and it is not worth the bother of driving across town.

    • Amy_Bushatz

      The study took into account the surcharge.

    • Dan Hawkins

      You are absolutely correct. Not only is the savings not that great, the quality of most items are poor. I’ve been an avid shopper at Commissary Jacksonville since June 1992 and the quality of the food have steadily decline and the prices has increased. I am ashamed of that commissary. And, since the vendors stock the shelves, they remove items that are good seller in order for you to buy items that don’t sell. And, items that are high priced, they remove the price labels from the shelf. I have been thinking about writing a complaint to Rep Corrine Brown to see if she would take a look into what is going on there and the Navy Exchange Jacksonville.

    • C. Crowe

      I agree with you John. My husband went to the Commissary yesterday and complained how much the prices have risen. Definitely not much of a savings. Of course, you could always purchase the “soon out-of-date” merchandise at killer prices, which I’m sure was calculated in the article above. I saw no mention of the surcharge which we also have here at Eglin AFB. I feel we are better off at the local grocery stores.

  • Jcow

    Here’s the secret to big savings at the commissary. Buy items that are on special. Here is an example we buy Peete’s Coffee at the regular grocery store it runs about $10 a pound, when on special at the commissary it is $6 per pound, a savings of 40%. On regular price days it is $8, a 20% savings. Oscar Meyer hot dogs can be as low as $1 a package at the commissary – they normally run $3 or so out in town, a 33% savings. I guess because I’ve been doing this for 25 years I’ve learned the ways to save more than 15%. By buying what is on special – there can be huge savings on cereals! I always buy my meats and produce at the commissary and by far the bulk of my shopping are those items – we eat very little canned or frozen foods but even those who do can still have big savings when you are smart in what you buy and when you buy it.

    • Wayne Perry

      If I am not mistaken one of the changes to law would mean those specials will be less often and this is where DeCA plans to make up most of their subsidy money losses.

      Because of the way DeCA is forced to sell product at what they pay for it plus 5%, you can see those crazy sales sporadically. In addition to the examples you gave a friend recently went to the commissary and sent me a pic of the 2 liters of name brand soda for 19 cents. yes. 19 cents. The commissary was forced to sell them at that price because of the laws in place and DeCA not being able to have more say in how they run their business.

      If they were able to sell each bottle of soda at $1.19 instead of .19, that would generate a lot of money. And while it is great to go to the store to find such great deals, its not worth the trip to take the chance something I want will be on super special like that. Not when sale prices of loss leaders in other stores are common. I got chicken breast at 1.39/lb the other day. Seasoned and everything. And at Safeway.

      My point, everyone is freaking about the commissary when reform is what they have needed all along. Now that our leaders are focusing less on missions abroad they can focus on missions at home and figuring out how to take care of all those who made it back.

  • RespectTheArmy

    30% savings is bull…. and remember the 5% surcharge makes that even less. One does not pay taxes on food in the civilian community; there is no surcharge either. We have compared prices between the commissary and Walmart for example and most prices are the same or the commisary is a little cheaper but never by 30%. So all this haggling and arguing about commissary benefits is a Joke since we are not saving like we used to. Many times the fruits and vegetables in the commisary are poor quality as compared to civilian grocery markets. Sad thing is that only a few young and a few elderly commisary shoppers actually buy fresh fruits and vegetables; they buy canned goods, frozen meals, soda, sweets and other horrible foods. We see this every time we shop at the commissary for many years. No wonder retired military persons for the most part look like death warmed over; they don’t eat right. They have diabetes and other disorders because they don’t eat right. It is sad to see and No One in the Military is doing anything about this. Maybe they want the retired military persons to die off so the Government does not have to pay for retired pay any longer. 9 of 10 retired persons in the commissary are woefully sick and eat terrible food as compared to 2 of 10 elderly persons in the civilian grocery stores. Wake up you retired military persons and start eating right. It is not hard and you will be very happy you did!!!

    • M Meier

      Uhmm, some places, like Arkansas, charge taxes on food. And there are other states that do.

      • oldernavyretiree

        So does Tennessee. They tax EVERYTHING here!

  • Some Dude

    What else can be said? Where do we go from here?

  • guest

    How about the Veterans and dependants that are employed at the commissaries? We are retired here in FL And Use the commissary closest to us, which is at Hurlburt Field. The baggers are either Veterans or dependant teens, the cashiers are dependants. Those are quite a few jobs that go out the window in a less than thriving job market!

    • Wayne Perry

      The Army is in the middle of laying off tens of thousands of soldiers. They may be the priority right now.

    • callmeBob

      The baggers are either… or…
      I have never seen a bagger that was not from the phillipine republic. No offense just a simple observation, and its nearly impossible to walk your own purchase out yourself.

      • John R

        LOL! I used to bag at a commissary in Belgium (high-school aged dependent). It was mostly Asian wives (Koreans, Thais, Philipinas), they are a lot of fun! E5s tipped the best, Asshats from the US Embassy in Paris, France, tipped the least.

  • LTC Gene

    Not mentioned is the fact that most commissary shoppers have their groceries bagged and the bagger gets tipped. This adds up to the total cost. That said, by and large, I do best at the commissary – but I’m close to Langley AFB, so I am not making a 30 mile trip.

  • I travel 40 miles to Ft Leonard Wood to use the Commissary. I find there prices much lower and much better quality than I can get at any of the off-post chain stores. Meat pricing is far better at the Commissary. One thing it seems that is overlooked is the quality you get compared to off-post. And another thing is the Case Lot Sales are great saving.

    • lefty

      i am a retired veteran , i have used the commissary in McGuire new jersey, i stopped going there it does not add up to any savings shopping local for groceries , i have to pay for gas and bridge tolls plus the 5% surcharge, the vegetables are not from the local farmers.

  • Fordownr

    If you do a line by line comparison of what you buy you’ll find the commissary is much cheaper on some things. Home 6 and I have done that and we end up buying everything except dairy and fresh fruits and veggies at the Commissary. The one example that comes to mind is Propel and Vitamin water. Normal commissary price is .79 per bottle (.60 on sale) while at Meijer they are usually1.09 (.99 on sale).

  • artymgysgt

    I like to think that there are big savings at base commissary stores but I don’t see it, even the rack with bent cans and crushed packages are no big saving also I remember there used to be store brand products available,if they exists they are not here where I sometimes shop.

    • manuel

      Must people shop on base for loyalty and to be around the military.

  • buck

    Those who have retired and active duty make up a very small percentage of the US population. Why can’t the commissary just sell everything for as cheap as possible even if they have to operate at a loss ? Shouldn’t the American tax payer feel good knowing they really mean ” Thank you for your service ” because some of their taxes are used to supplement military members shopping at the commissary ?
    That would be the right thing to do wouldn’t it ? But then again . That thank you for your service is just a punch line…

    • Meg

      The commissary does operate at a loss. The 5% surcharge does not cover all the labor and overhead costs. If more people shopped at the Commissary, the increases in labor costs would further increase the amount of taxpayer subsidy required to operate the thing.

    • Joe CWO3, Ret.

      Buck, sounds to me like you have your hand out and expect more. There are a few that operate in the loss catagory, Guam and some other out of the way places that if charged the additional transport costs would not be able to operate and the service personnel would be taking the hit. Get real !

  • Fox

    Here at JBMDL the closest supermarket besides the commissary is Acme and the Acme prices are outrageous. I can almost guarantee I would save 30% shopping at the commissary over Acme. I also prefer the commissary because it’s cheaper and closer to my home and job. The commissary definitely has its perks, even though they have risen prices!

  • Carolyn

    Isn’t Some Savings better than NO savings!

  • Don D.

    Don’t tell me about savings at the Commissary. Sure you pay less but you get a product which is a lot inferior to a great product at the local grocery store. Just for an example check the difference between the fruit or the vegetables and note the difference between what you get at the commissary or what you get at one of your public supermarkets. The supermarkets get the best while the commissary get the cast offs. Why? Because the producers know they can get away with it when you deal with the government. Its no different from anything else when doing business with Uncle Sam, its your tax money they are spending.

  • TSGT Joe 39Y3M

    In the late 60’s the Commissary, NX, BX, base Gas Station etc were great places because our pay was low and the cost on base was also low. 40 years later I retired and by then the entire ‘benefits” system had been converted into just another store which had to RAISE pricing to pacify stores on the economy. It seemed that pacifying local merchants (and redirecting the profits into other base areas that had lost funding like MWR) was the new thinking.

    Bottom line, what is lost is lost, never to return.

  • Earl

    The Commissaries here in Hawaii have gotten worse and worse and I have been shopping more and more at supermarkets like Safeway. Items like milk and sugar are always cheaper at the local market. Turkey at Thanks giving is way cheaper at local supermarkets then the Commissary and I mean way cheaper like 1/5 to 1/10th the price. I never buy eggs because I have my own chickens. Just over Veterans day they had big sales at the Commissary like a bag of potatoes for 99 cents which went rotten in just a few days! watermelons were on sale but the price per pound was less at the local supermarket! Items like cereal or frozen foods are cheaper by allot in the Commissary Whole cooked chickens are not as Safeway has a sale on them every Friday

  • Paula Allen

    I drive 120 miles to the commissary once a month to do the bulk of my shopping.. I can spend 300.00 at the commissary which is 3-4 hundred less than what i would spend at the civilian stores in my area even with the across the board surcharge.. there is not 1 thing at the commissary that i can find cheaper in any store within 2 hours of me..i also use coupons and that helps me save even more.. we are retired and we are now raising some of grandchildren and if we lose the commissary we will be struggling to feed our family which in this day and age should never happen..

  • Don

    Some things are cheaper and some are not. The biggest thing is the distance you have to travel to get what you need. I live 7 miles from Wal Mart and 9 from the commissary here at New River Air Station. I am lucky in that regard, but better deals exist on a consistent basis at Wal Mart while the commissary has some great case lot sales every once in awhile. It is all in the ye of the beholder on where to shop. The commissary spending is a drop in the bucket compared to what money is really wasted on, but the DoD is a convenient target a always. The moral of the story of all of this here is if we let our commissaries be taken away then what will be taken away next? It is a matter of principle.

  • WD5069

    It’s also the intangibles. Our commissary is clean and well kept. When I go to Kroger, which is rarely, it smells like two day old fish. Also Walmart may be cheap, but it had one of the lowest consumer satisfaction ratings in a recent national consumer magazine.

  • Judy

    We shop at the commissary and Winco here in the San Diego area. We love that we have a Winco nearby because most of the time they beat commissary prices

  • Retired Chappy

    As a new retiree chaplain, something I think needs saying is that commissaries donate a LOT to the food bank located on just about every Army post! The turkeys at Thanksgiving and Christmas? Commissary donated! When families run out of money before they run out of month? Fresh meats, bread, milk, baby formula, and even diapers that they receive through the post food bank are from the Commissary. So there is a benefit Soldiers and families receive from the Commissary that needs to be mentioned. When Units have parties, guess where a good portion of the food comes from? Usually the Commissary allows one “free” unit function per year, but even when the unit pays, it is a great deal less than it would cost at a local vendor. Both the Commissary and the Exchange donate heavily to families burned out of their homes, or facing other catastrophic emergencies. So yes, even if I pay a surcharge and tip the baggers, I will continue to shop at the Commissary and Exchange because they really do give back to the Soldiers!

  • Tony Bekay

    I hear all your arguments, and all are good. But the bottom line we need these elected clowns play fair when it comes to military benefits. They vote themselves huge pay raises but nickel and dime us to death.

  • ExtraordinAiredale

    The commissary shopping at the NATO base in Keflavik(Iceland) was absolutely necessary. Off base food costs were sky high! When states taxed food items, the commissary was an obvious advantage. Also, offering very secure food source to service families.