SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (July 5, 2013) -- The latest formal Price Comparison Study, issued by the Defense Commissary Agency in June, reports Hawaii's commissaries lead the world in customer savings.
Hawaii commissary shoppers are the beneficiaries, saving a whopping 49.3 percent compared to those who shop at Hawaii's commercial supermarkets, according to the research.
The main study, conducted on a comprehensive database provided by Neilsen, gathered actual prices from commercial grocery stories and commissaries for all scannable items sold at locations within the 48 contiguous states.
The database allowed DeCA to compare prices of virtually every Universal Price Code item sold in continental U.S. (CONUS) commissaries to identical items sold in commercial grocery stores (More than 35,000 grocery items were used in the 2012 analysis.). Tobacco products were not included.
Locally, data for scannable and nonscannable items were collected via physical audit at two commissaries in Hawaii, two in Alaska and 13 overseas locations. For each of these commissaries, two outside commercial stores were also surveyed, because the database for scannable items does not have pricing for retail stores outside CONUS.
About 200 items were surveyed in Hawaii and Alaska and about 180 at overseas locations.
DeCA sales weights by geographical areas were then factored into the model to arrive at a worldwide savings percentage. Taxes for food and nonfood were then applied to all retail sales and surcharge applied to commissary prices to arrive at an after-tax and surcharge percentage. Savings were then presented in geographic segments with the DeCA worldwide savings percentage representing a composite of all geographic areas.
At the Schofield Commissary, the impressive savings reflect the aggressive approach by management to work with suppliers to maximize customer savings and volume buys.
"If there is a deal out there, I want it," said Gregory McGruder, Schofield Commissary director, and a 39-year employee of DeCA, who previously served as a member of DeCA's worldwide assessment team before coming to Hawaii in April.
The goal is competition and also targeting a magic 50 percent savings goal with big purchases. With no commissary markup, savings are passed along directly to the commissary shopper.
"Every Saturday, we want to have something 'super spectacular,'" McGruder explained.
Suppliers who meet the 50 percent target, with what McGruder describes as a "Blue Light Special," can receive Superman T-shirts with "Ask me about the Deal" inscriptions. The result has fueled competition among suppliers, McGruder said.
With the current distinction as DeCA's most valuable commissary comes an understanding that customer service is at the core of the designation, McGruder added.
High volume specials are also coupled with special events, such as the recent three-day farmers market event, along with giveaways that recently included a washer-dryer giveaway, courtesy of manufacturing giant Proctor and Gamble.
"We're about making people feel like they are our family," McGruder said, while pointing out the washer-dryer giveaway was only for Schofield commissary patrons.
(Editor's note: Information was pulled from DeCA's Price Comparison Study.)