FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Saving money and getting deals at the grocery store is by no means a new trend. From the days of S&H Green Stamps to today's television shows about extreme couponing, people will always do what it takes to get the most out of their hard-earned dollars.
The desire to save money is no different for military Families. What is different is the option for military Families to shop at their installation commissary. According to the National Military Family Association website, "Commissaries are an important part of the overall military pay and benefits package, and they significantly improve our military Families' quality of life. Commissary shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases, which is about $3,400 annually for a Family of four. This benefit is even more important today in our current economy."
The 30 percent average savings is a Defense Commissary Agency standard -- meaning shoppers who purchase groceries at the Fort Campbell commissary can expect to see these savings all the time, according to Patricia King, acting store director.
"You can get deals downtown, but most of the time they are loss leaders," said King. "If you took everything you purchased as a group and bought it at the commissary, you're going to have savings."
To ensure that competitive prices are continually offered to military Families, DeCA conducts a price comparison study each year throughout the country. The latest study, released in September 2012, showed that commissary shoppers saw a savings percentage of 29.4 throughout the 50 states.
Though the upcoming civilian employee furlough, scheduled to go into effect July 8 through Sept. 30, will have an effect on the hours of operation (the commissary will be closed each Monday during this period), King assures customers that the loss of hours will not translate into a loss of savings.
"The furlough won't impact customer savings," she said. "We still keep that standard 30 percent."
The only way in which the furlough has had any impact on the Fort Campbell commissary is the cancellation of the two case lot sales which were scheduled to take place this year.
"To make up for that difference locally, we're having what we call sidewalk sales," said King. "We're offering specials on different things and doing promotions. I always try to advertise on our webpage when we have sidewalk sales."
King says that DeCA also offers savings to customers in the form of rewards cards, which can be loaded with coupons found online.
"When you check out, you won't have all these paper coupons; you just scan your card and coupons automatically come off," she said. "So that's an extra savings that DeCA is offering."
In lieu of sales tax, customers are only charged a flat, 5 percent surcharge, which goes back into DeCA stores to cover new equipment, construction and renovations. Information about commissary benefits can be found online at www.militaryfamily.org/you-benefits/Commissary-exchange or www.commissaries.com.