Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Unit Pricing @ the Supermarket: the secret to the best deal

How many people have gone into a supermarket and have seen a unit price next to the price of the item they intend to buy on the shelf and have wondered what the unit price is?  Raise your hand - no one's looking, unless you're using your computer in public - and they'll probably think you're stretching.

If you've ever seen two similar labels like the ones above, and are trying to figure out which is the better deal per tissue, how can you tell?  It's really simple if going by a standardized measure - that'd be the unit count - the one in orange above.  It allowes you to compare the price per 100 tissues.  Which one is less expensive?  The one for $1.32 per 100 count, right?  It's less than $1.68, right?  Well, not quite - read carefully - the unit price saying $1.32 is "per each," NOT, "per 100" as the one above it says.

If you adjust the unit price for the second item to "per 100", then the true unit cost per 100 would be $1.55 - still less costly per tissue than the label above it, but not by much.


1) Unit pricing can be helpful for comparing the unit cost of items vis a vis one another  BUT
2) Stores are sometimes tricky when they use a different unit for similar items making it difficult if not impossible to compare unit prices accurately.
3) Be careful when using unit prices to ensure all units are the same, and adjust accordingly - use the calculator on your cell phone if you want.  To adjust the price to "per 100" like I did above, simply take ($1.32/85)*100 to get $1.55 per 100 count.
4) Bulk sizes may not always have a lower unit cost, so be careful not to get ripped off buying bulk sizes thinking it's less costly - Costco and BJ's may not always be less per unit cost than regular supermarkets, particularly when shopping in suburbia.


  1. great advice!! Thanks so much.

  2. R u kidding me???? Such a scam; what store is that from??

  3. It's from Wal-Mart.