Safeway slashes prices at NorCal stores

August 12, 2009 5:50:08 PM PDT
Northern California's largest grocery chain has cut its prices on thousands of items. 7 On Your sides looks at what it means to your bottom line.

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Bay Area-based Safeway this week officially announced what it is calling substantial price cuts in its 253 Northern California and Nevada locations.

Shoppers browsing the aisles in Safeway will notice something new -- Yellow tags signaling a price has been reduced.

"We know the economy in California is rough right now. And I think customers are looking for any break that they can get," said Safeway Northern California Division President Karl Schroeder.

Schroeder said 25 to 30 percent of the items in each location are cheaper and the price reduction program will continue beyond the recession. Those with Safeway Club Cards will be able to take advantage of additional discounts.

"We'll continue to have a wide variety of items that will be discounted with the Club Card every week. But the items, the 5,000-10,000 items we reduced are really everyday items that are low priced," said Schroeder.

Jeff Blyskal is an editor with Consumer Reports. He says it's too early to tell if shoppers will really save that much money in the long run, but says his first impressions are positive.

"I was just there in Safeway yesterday. The prices were low. I thought they were on sale. I was not in tune to the everyday low pricing thing," said Blyskal.

A survey of more than 30,000 Consumer Reports readers in March showed Safeway needed to do something.

Shoppers ranked Trader Joe's as having the best prices in Northern California. Raley's was close behind, followed by Costco and Whole Foods.

Readers found Safeway as just having average prices.

Raley's told 7 On Your Side it implemented its own price reduction program last fall. But that isn't static, Blyskal says pricing is always changing.

"Consumers really have to stay on the ball constantly, and shop around, do comparison shopping. Don't just stop at one store," said Blyskal.

Northern California is the first market Safeway is unveiling this program. It will be eventually rolled out nationwide.

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