The average grocery bill in Florida dropped 3.1% this summer, compared with last year, according to an annual survey released this month.
The Florida Farm Bureau in Tallahassee surveyed five grocery stores — Winn-Dixie, Food Lion, Publix, Wal-Mart Supercenters and Albertsons — in St. John's and Flagler counties in early July.
It priced out the same 25 items, including grapes, milk, hamburger meat, laundry detergent, dog food, sweetener and M&Ms, that it has included in the survey for the last three years.
Shoppers would have spent $440.31 for all 25 items at the five stores combined, compared with $454.27 last year.
Publix Super Markets, Lakeland, Fla., had the highest prices. In previous surveys, Albertsons had held that distinction.
Food Lion, Salisbury, N.C., showed the most improvement in prices. The bill at Food Lion dropped 8.8%, primarily because it offered significantly lower prices on seedless grapes compared with last year.
The grocery bill at Publix was actually 67 cents lower than last year, but it dropped from third place to last place in the basket cost rankings of the five grocers. The total grocery bill at Albertsons dropped a significant 8.2%, but it still had the second-highest prices.
Wal-Mart continued to be the low-price leader this year. The Florida Farm Bureau found that Wal-Mart's prices have been significantly below the other supermarkets in each of the last six years it has been conducting the survey.
The total basket cost by retailer, ranked from lowest to highest, is:
- Wal-Mart: $78.63
- Food Lion: $86.54
- Winn-Dixie: $91.00
- Albertsons: $91.51
- Publix: $92.63
Ed Albanesi, a farm bureau spokesman who conducted the research, said he believes consumers' grocery bills may have actually increased, despite the survey's results.
“Lower prices this year was the luck of the draw,” he said. “In general, consumers' total shopping bill is going up.”
The survey took loyalty card pricing, buy-one, get-one-free offers, and circular coupons into account.