Samantha Bomkamp of the Chicago Tribune shared a report today that shows Walgreens is less than consistent when it comes to pricing. Walgreens is compared to its competitors and is left smelling, well, not so rosy. According to the reporting of Ms. Bomkamp and the findings of both Change to Win Retail Initiatives and the National Consumers League, customers of Walgreens could find themselves paying up to 55 percent more for products at different stores in the same city. No law against it, just not something that you would imagine the retailer wants its customers privy to if I was a betting man.
These discrepancies were found by the study that was conducted in four large American markets: Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, New York, Los Angeles, and Orange County, CA. Those who conducted the survey bought 25 items from Band-Aids to Shampoo at 485 different stores owned by Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid.
What they found was that Walgreens is five times more likely than its aforementioned competitors to charge a different price at different locations throughout the same city. The report also suggested that shoppers avoid Walgreens flagship stores and to ask about price matching in order to force Walgreens to change its different price/different location strategy.
Walgreen Co. spokesman Jim Graham said the company’s prices “reflect the costs of doing business in the neighborhoods we serve as well as any nearby retail competition.”
“Costs can vary from one location to another, even when they are a few blocks apart in dense urban areas, based on the store’s cost of real estate, its hours of operation including whether it is open 24 hours, labor costs and the number of customers it serves each day, among other factors,” he added.
Walgreen Co. sued
While this is a common practice, the study was released just a week after the Missouri Attorney General’s office announced it is suing Walgreen Co. for allegedly overcharging customers and using false advertising.
The lawsuit is a result of a two-month investigation by the office of Attorney General Chris Koster, whose office found a (disturbing) “pattern of advertising lower prices on display tags, but charging higher prices at the checkout.”
While Walgreens is seeing less overall consumer traffic in its stores, sales were up nearly six percent in August as customers seem to be purchasing more with each trip to the retailer.