No Frills vs. Food Basics vs. Loblaws vs. Valu-Mart vs. Sobeys vs. Dominion vs. Other
This question has been asked once before, but I'd like to get an updated opinion.
I want to have these stores (and possibly others... I remember there was a grocery store on Leslie between Finch and Steeles, for example, but I don't remember the name... i think it had an italian name to it) ranked BY PRICE, and then BY SHOPPING EXPERIENCE, SEPARATELY. I'm talking about average price and average shopping experience: If you bought bundle X (which includes, for example, 50 items) every week from all of these stores, which one would turn out to be the cheapest or the most expensive over the long run? And which one gives you a better shopping experience (service, availability of products, quality of produce, etc.)?
IMHO (and a very inaccurate opinion, as I shop almost exclusively at either Valu-Mart or No Frills and sometimes Sobeys):
1) Price (from cheapest to most expensive): Food Basics and No Frills < Loblaws < Valu-Mart < Sobeys < Domion.
2) Shopping experience (from worst to best): Food Basics < No Frills < Loblaws and Valu-Mart < Dominion.
Please write passionately, and include other stores if you are familiar with them! Cautionary example: If you know there's walmart groceries but have only shopped there only once, then please think twice about stating any opinion on walmart (or any other store, for that matter).
I think part of the difficulty of this exercise is that there is variation not only between chains, but also between different locations of the same chain. Service and restocking efficiency can vary drastically, in my opinion. Prices at downtown groceries stores seem much higher than those in the suburbs.
Based on the three grocery stores I frequent (Sobeys @ Front and Princess, Dominion @ Front and Church, and Loblaws @ Queens Quay and Jarvis) I would rank as follows:
1) Price (from cheapest to most expensive): Dominion< Sobeys < Loblaws
2) Shopping experience (From worst to best) : Dominion < Loblaws < Sobeys
But there are many exceptions to these generalities. For example, Dominion in general seems to be out of everything all the time, but they are the only one that stocks a nice cream cheese I like in the deli. Loblaws is in general very expensive, but the allergy pills I buy are $10 cheaper there than elsewhere. Most of all, though the service at Dominion is so abysmal that I will often happily pay more elsewhere to avoid crossing their threshold.
your comment is bang on. As a market researcher I can attest that there is variation amongst locations. In fact, a colleague at another research firm once told me that Queens Quay Loblaws is one of the most expensive grocery stores in the country.
Both Dominion and Loblaws have different "level" stores and you will find the prices vary amongst these levels. For instance, the Dominion at Kenedy Commons in Scarborough in much more expensive than the Loblaws at Agincourt Mall (I think its a No Frills now), yet the Dominion at Liberty Village is cheaper than the Loblaws on Queens Quay.
With this pricing structure, it would be hard to rank by price.
I shop mostly at Loblaw's at Leslie and Lakeshore, NF on Carlaw, Price Chopper across from Loblaws, Sobey's on Broadview, and Dominion on Gould or at Yonge/Eg.
1) Price (from cheapest to most expensive):
No Frills < Price Chopper < Loblaw's < Sobey's < Dominion
2) Shopping experience (From worst to best) : Dominion < Loblaws < Price Chopper < No Frills < Sobey's
The No Frills on Carlaw has tonnes of Asian ingredients and is quite clean and well stocked. Dominion on Gould is bare bones, and the fish counter is rarely open before noon. The one in the Yonge/Eg Centre is a joke. Sobey's is good, but $$ and despite the reno, poorly laid out at the Broadview location. The lakeshore Loblaw's was frightening some time ago, but is marginally better, now. I do like the PC products and that location also has a Bulk Barn, which add points, even if unfairly. Price Chopper on Lakeshore is clean and well-stocked, but has less variety and choice than No Frills which is close by.
I use the same stores except for the Dominion. I find myself using No Frills for 75% of my basic stuff because the prices are so good and the place is clean, bright and well-kept. Produce is always fine early in the day and before the weekend crush. If you get there much past noon on Saturday, you won't find much.
On the down side, No Frills has no deli, no fish and a weakish meat counter. Also misses some of the brands you get at Loblaw's. But a quick once-a-week to Loblaw's and the Market takes care of all that.
Not fond of Price Chopper except in desperation. Kinda sketchy. Sobey's is a bit far but when I've been there I don't find it the equal of No Frills/Loblaw's.
I hear the new Sobey's on Front St. E. is really nice and it's on my way to and from work, so I may check it out.
My major concern when shopping relates to quality. Does the store have a broad selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, seafood, groceries, etc. I also like a store to have unusual, exotic ingredients as I like to experiment in the kitchen. I live in Burlington and there is only one choice... Fortino's. Definitely not the cheapest but is has the best selection and variety. Given your criteria, I rate Fortino's number 1 for shopping experience followed by Sobey's, Longo's, Ultramart. Never been to the No Frills or Food Basics - don't think we have one in Burlington but probably wouldn't go anyway. Not a member at Costco so cannot include that one in the rating.
K so maybe I should add this: I live on Yonge and Bloor. I often go to Vince's No Frills on Parliament, but stocks over there are not that great (especially for yogurt). Valu-mart is right next to me, so I do the little shoppings there (just a 5-7 minute walk) but I don't know how it fairs in comparison (price wise) with No Frills or other stores for me to do my big shoppings there. Then there's the Sobey's at Yonge and St. Claire, which seems to have much more expensive prices than the loblaws on Bayview and Moore.