Grocery Store Wars

No surprise here: Study shows Whole Foods is pricier than H-E-B — but by how much?

Study shows Whole Foods is pricier than H-E-B — but by how much?

Whole Foods Market flagship store in Austin
New study puts "Whole Paycheck" nickname to the test. Photo courtesy of Whole Foods Market

While it's common knowledge that shopping at Whole Foods Market — jokingly referred to as "Whole Paycheck" — isn't exactly ideal for those on a tight budget, a new survey shows just how much more customers are paying to shop there as opposed to heading to their regional grocery store.

Wolfe Research, a New York investment firm, recently conducted a study which compared the cost of groceries from Whole Foods to the exact same items from regional grocery stores H-E-B in Houston, Mariano's in Chicago and Wegmans near Washington, DC.

 Whole Foods is testing a shopping rewards program, even though the company has resisted such an initiative for more than 30 years. 

According to Wolfe, the lowest prices were found at H-E-B where the grocery total was $220. In comparison, the same groceries from Whole Foods cost a total of $255. The other two regional grocery stores in Chicago and Washington, DC also offered groceries for less than Whole Foods, averaging around $30 in savings.

In a smaller survey where researchers bought organic and non-organic produce items, H-E-B had a total of $23 whereas at Whole Foods those same items added up to $29.

In the most recent quarter, Whole Foods reported that "same-store sales" — referring to sales at stores open at least a year — increased by 3.9 percent. This percentage is significantly lower than the 8 percent quarterly increases the Austin-based grocery chain has experienced before.

As a result of its less-than-stellar performance as of late, Whole Foods is testing a shopping rewards program, even though the company has resisted such an initiative for more than 30 years, Bloomberg reports. Whole Foods is also hoping to combat increasing competition with a national marketing and brand campaign launching this fall — a company first.