Walmart, Costco or Trader Joe’s: Which Store’s Shoppers Spend the Most?
Business + Economy

Walmart, Costco or Trader Joe’s: Which Store’s Shoppers Spend the Most?

© Rick Wilking / Reuters

The old saw that you shouldn’t grocery shop while hungry or you’ll spend way more than you planned comes with an intriguing twist: The amount you spend on groceries also depends on the store you visit, and the difference can be as high as $118 per trip.

According to an analysis by Priceconomics, shoppers rarely spend more than $200 at Walmart — but the same is true for Trader Joe’s and even Whole Foods, which is routinely criticized for its high prices. In fact, less than 5 percent of trips to those three chains result in a grocery bill that high. But one in five visits to Costco exceeds that amount.

Of course, those stats don’t necessarily say much about the prices of the groceries people are buying; they’re more reflective of how customers shop at those stores, with Coscto shoppers required to buy in bulk while Whole Foods, for example, is typically a destination for smaller trips.

At the other end of the spectrum, nearly half of purchases at 7-Eleven, home of the Slurpee, and four out of 10 trips to Dollar General total less than $10. Oddly, about one in 10 visits to Costco or Sam’s Club are also for $10 or less, the analysis found.

SLIDESHOW PREVIEW: Which Grocery Store’s Shoppers Spend the Most?

The level of spending at Whole Foods and Walmart are remarkably similar, even though they seem to cater to different types of shoppers.

Slightly more people spend less than $25 on a trip to Whole Foods, and slightly more spend $25 to $100 at Walmart, but overall, the distribution of how much people shell out on trips to these stores is roughly parallel.

Looking more closely at Whole Foods, the study also found that Boston shoppers spent the least on an average trip, at $26. That’s $38 below what Whole Foods shoppers in Chicago spent on the average trip.

Related: Why Bad News for Walmart Is Good News for Small Town, USA

Using Perfect Price credit card transaction data from thousands of visits in May and June 2015, Priceconomics calculated the average amount of money spent per visit to the top U.S. food sellers. That included top 25 food retailers by revenue plus other common chains like Trader Joe’s and 7-Eleven.

Click here to find out where shoppers spend the least and most per trip at 20 different stores.