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Hawaii’s Lowest Grocery Store Prices: Don Quijote

Foodland a close second; Safeway’s prices highest

(page 2 of 2)

Neighbor Island Prices

It was harder to determine who had the lowest prices on the Neighbor Islands for several reasons.

The same products in the same sizes were not always available at all of the stores we surveyed on Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Island. And since we surveyed one store for each chain only once on each island, we are reluctant to draw hard and fast conclusions. For instance, on the day we surveyed Hawaii Island prices, a $9 discount on the 20-pound bag of rice gave Foodland the lowest price total for our grocery list; but if that bag of rice wasn’t on sale that day, the cheapest prices overall would go to KTA, a locally owned chain with only Big Island stores.

With those qualifications in mind, our other one-day surveys on the Neighbor Islands showed:

• On Maui, Times had the lowest prices and Foodland had the second lowest.

• On Kauai, Foodland had the lowest prices, with Times second.

• On all three Neighbor Islands we surveyed, Safeway had the most expensive prices.

• Regular Neighbor Island prices were often a dime or more than in Oahu stores of the same chain. However, sale prices were often the same at all stores within the same chain, possibly to allow for statewide advertising.

Join the Club or No Club at All?

Foodland and Safeway both require their customers to sign up for their free club cards to get most discounts and sale prices. These club programs, common at grocery chains across the country, allow the stores to collect all kinds of information on people’s buying habits so they can better target their displays, prices and selection for different types of people.

Don Quijote, Times and KTA

do not have club programs; their sale prices are available to everyone.

Same Chain, Different Price

One interesting tidbit from our survey: The same chain will frequently have different regular prices at different stores on Oahu. All the chains did it, but Safeway did it more than the others based on the 27 items on our grocery list.

Who Was Cheapest 10 Years Ago?

The last time a comprehensive grocery-store price survey was published in Hawaii, Don Quijote also had the lowest prices – both regular prices and sale prices. The survey, published by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on June 26, 2000, showed Star Market had the second-lowest prices and Times had the highest (Times has since bought Star). See the survey at

Walmart, Whole Foods, Costco

We did not survey Walmart, Whole Foods and Costco because these chains do not offer the range of groceries offered by traditional supermarkets.

Where and When We Collected Prices

Each time we surveyed prices, we targeted a cluster of stores in the same area on the same day, with one exception noted below. Occasionally, an item on our shopping list was not available at a store. In that case we averaged the prices on that item at the other stores within the same chain; we did not price substitutes to avoid the possibility of comparing apples and oranges, so to speak.

·                    May 5: Kapolei/Ewa Beach/Waipahu

o        Don Quijote, Farrington Hwy.

o        Foodland, Ft. Weaver Rd.

o        Safeway, Farrington Hwy.

o        Times, Farrington Hwy

·                    May 5: Kapahulu/Waialae

o        Foodland, Market City

o        Safeway, Kapahulu Ave.

o        Times, Waialae Ave.

·                    May 8: Kauai

o        Foodland, Kapaa

o        Safeway, Kapaa

o        Times, Lihue

·                    May 8: Central Honolulu

o        Don Quijote, Kaheka St.

o        Foodland, School St.

o        Safeway, Pali Hwy

o        Times, S. Beretania St. (May 9)

·                    May 12: Aiea/Pearl City

o        Safeway, Kaahumanu St.

o        Times, Kaahumanu St.

o        Foodland, Waimano Home Rd.

o        Don Quijote, Waimano Home Rd.

·                    May 15: Kihei, Maui

o        Foodland

o        Safeway

o        Times

·                    May 19: Kailua

o        Safeway, Hamakua Dr.

o        Times, Kailua Rd.

o        Foodland, Hamakua Dr.

o        Don Quixote, Hahani St.

·                    May 22: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Island (Times has no stores here)

o        Foodland

o        Safeway

o        KTA

·                    May 23: East Honolulu

o        Safeway, Kawaihae St.

o        Times, 21st Ave.

o        Foodland, Aina Haina.

Hawaii Business magazine invites you to comment on our articles and the issues they raise. Comments are moderated for offensive language, commercial messages and off-topic posts and may be deleted. Some comments may be chosen for inclusion in the magazine on the Feedback page.

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Jul 29, 2010 12:17 am
 Posted by  franksalot

I don't believe Matt's story that Safeway is the highest price store.

Nobody charges higher or lower for the price of the #1 selling fruit in the produce department. Bananas- it probably brings in more profit for this department than any other item. So Matt, why does Safeway sell bananas in Chicago, Sacramento, Alaska for 79 cents per lb, yet they sell them for $1.19 lb in Maui? Answer: All the stores are price gouging. All the stores probaby pay no more than 40 cents a lb but charge 1.19

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Nov 24, 2010 02:09 pm
 Posted by  rj

Safeway is the highest priced grocery store for the most part on the island. Wal-Mart is the best when it come to a lot of boxed and can goods. I went there filed up my cart with groceries to the top for $134.00 can't beat that.

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