Friday, June 16, 2017

Pricing Complaints

With Whole Foods being in the news from the Amazon announcement, I'm seeing all of the old "Whole Foods is overpriced" rants being re-hashed. Maybe that's true in other areas of the country. Dunno. All I know is that at the ones closest to me, they're price competitive when you do actual apples-to-apples price-comparisons. What I've found, price-wise, is:
  • if they carry something that is sold elsewhere (e.g., a "regular" grocery store, they're price-competitive - often beating Giant or Safeway on those items).
  • if they carry a local product from, say, a farmer/producer that sells in the local farm market, their prices are the same (unless the seller at the farmers market intentionally undercuts Whole Foods' pricing
  • they're a skosh higher than, say, Total Beverage on same-item-pricing for wines and beers
  • they're about the same as Wegmans on items from the dairy-case, seafood counter and butcher's counter
  • You get positively KILLED on things like prepared foods (though, the ingredients on one of their sandwiches tends to be different than the ones you'll find a Potbelly's or Jimmy Johns ...and in a completely different class than your local Subway)
  • You get killed on vitamins/supplements ...but they're usually carrying brands/options for which there's no meaningful point of comparison
The problem ísn't that they're overcharging for what they carry, it's that their inventory tends to be weighted towards "premium" options. Complaining about Whole Foods' prices seems a lot like whining that the pair of hand-crafted full-grain leather shoes you saw at Nieman Marcus are so much more expensive than the machine-made "Genuine Leather" knockoffs at Payless.

Note: I made the shoe comparison b/c it's fair (see Leather Grades article)