The Tip Jar: Is Amazon Prime cheaper than Walmart for groceries?

Amazon recently reduced the cost of a Prime membership for low-income Americans – which some say is a strategy to steal customers from Walmart.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Making the headlines recently was news that Amazon is dropping the cost of its Prime membership to $5.99 per month for people receiving government assistance.

Commentators said the move was another sign the online giant was taking a shot at Walmart (where 1 in 5 shoppers use food stamps) by offering lower-income Americans access to the free, same-day delivery Amazon Prime Now grocery service.

But is it worth it for these shoppers – or indeed, anyone who pays the full $99 a year for Prime – to get their groceries from Amazon? We've compared prices to see how they stack up.

How I did the comparison

Since Amazon doesn't have own-brand items this is a like-for-like comparison, matching name brands sold on Amazon Prime Now with the same products in Walmart.

Amazon also doesn't currently sell any meat products (though AmazonFresh, which is not available in Minnesota, does). So I've taken a look at 51 products across the produce, dairy, household cleaning, personal care, snacks, canned goods, frozen and bakery departments.

I compared Amazon Prime Now's prices – which you can check out here – with the Walmart in Richfield, Minnesota.

Prime membership entitles you to free two-hour delivery with Prime Now, but only in select markets. That includes the Twin Cities, but you're out of luck if you live outside the metro.

I didn't include the cost of Amazon Prime. I don't think the $5.99 or $8.25 per month (depending on your rate) would be hugely different from what you'd spend on gas/the bus to go to the grocery store several times a month.

Total cost

Amazon – $159.55

Walmart – $148.70

Sorry, multinational online giant, but you're still not beating Walmart when it comes to price. (Albeit getting it delivered to your doorstep certainly says something for convenience.)

That said, the price difference wasn't as significant as I expected it to be, and it would probably put Amazon on a similar level with HyVee, Target and Cub Foods based on our previous grocery comparisons.

But bear in mind that if you're a more frugal shopper, there are probably plenty of occasions where you could choose cheaper, own-brand products at any of these grocery stores, much like you could do at Walmart but can't at Amazon. (It should be noted Tip Jar has also surveyed Aldi – which is even cheaper than Walmart).

Click here to see a spreadsheet featuring the price comparison for every Amazon-Walmart item.

Is there anything Amazon was cheaper in?

The most fair comparison, where name brands aren't really an issue, comes in the produce department, and this is one area where Amazon was quite a bit cheaper.

I surveyed 11 items at various weights: Bananas, baby carrots, strawberries, mushrooms, russet potatoes, Fuji apples, red grapes, red onion, blueberries, green beans and jalapenos.

Amazon Now's produce price came in at $29.94, a few bucks cheaper than Walmart which came in at $33.35.

Much of this as down to the $4.29 for a pint of blueberries offer from Amazon, with Walmart charging $4.46 for only 6 ounces.

Where was Walmart particularly cheap?

Walmart was cheaper in most categories, and it's fair to say that on the whole you spend a little less shopping for name brands at Walmart.

Dairy was a few bucks less expensive at Walmart. Same goes for the cereal department, canned goods and household/personal care products.

Snacks were pretty comparable between the two, as were drinks and bakery products, with only a few cents separating each retailer in those categories.

Next Up

vote, vote now

MN Supreme Court dismisses attempt to block election certification

Another legal defeat for Republicans challenging the election.

prison, Rush City cell block

Another Minnesota prison inmate dies after COVID-19 diagnosis

The virus has killed at least six Minnesota inmates.

leech lake band of ojibwe sign

11,760 acres of land wrongly taken from Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe will be returned

The Senate and now the House have passed a bill that effectively returns the land. It's now headed for the president's signature.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Timberwolves release first half of 2020-21 regular season schedule

The second half of the schedule will be announced at a later date.

reindeer como zoo

Watch live: Como Zoo's live reindeer cam is back for December

The live feed will run 24/7 allowing you to keep an eye on Santa's antlered helpers.

sleeping

Three simple ways to boost your immune health heading into winter

Eating right is one thing, but there are other ways to stay healthy as the days shorten.

Taylor Rogers

Why Twins fans shouldn't give up on Taylor Rogers

The Twins closer struggled in 2020 but could rebound next season.

Co. Rd. 2 crash, Wakefield Twp.

Teen driver leaves road, crashes into three trees

Fortunately, the 16-year-old was not injured.

mndot deer  tunnel 1

Minnesota is getting its first highway crossing for animals

This will provide a safe way for animals to cross the street, and hopefully limit deer-vehicle collisions.

Related

The Tip Jar: We went to 9 grocery stores to find which one was cheapest

Walmart, Cub, Target or Hyvee? We checked out Twin Cities grocery chains to find the best deals.

The Tip Jar: Is there a best time to book plane tickets?

There are a lot of variation, but studies suggest there is a "prime booking window."

The Tip Jar: Costco vs. Sam's Club, which is cheaper?

We also compared the 2 wholesalers' prices with a regular grocery store.

How does Walmart's new free shipping deal compare with Target and Amazon?

Walmart has upped its game in the shipping battle with Target and Amazon.

The Tip Jar: Cheaper ways to make your home more valuable before you sell

Think twice before that $50,000 kitchen remodel, there are most cost-effective ways to boost your home's value.

Amazon launches cheap Prime memberships for low-income Americans

The online retail giant is taking another shot at Walmart.

The Tip Jar: Is staying with Airbnb a better deal than a hotel?

It certainly looks that way in the Twin Cities...