The problem with convenience store prices

Sometimes, we get caught in the trap of paying more than we should just because something seems affordable.

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As we already know, convenience stores charge higher and get away with it because they’re convenient, and we’re willing to pay for convenience.

I wondered how much more we’re really paying, so I compared two grocery stores and two convenience stores and ranked the difference in prices.

The result? We pay up to 362% of regular grocery prices for convenience store goods.

The method

I compared two common and low tier supermarkets in Singapore, NTUC Fairprice and Giant with two common convenience stores, 7-Eleven and Cheers.

I took the average prices of items, and matched the exact brands and quantities as much as possible.

Note: I used original prices and NOT sales prices. All prices are in Singapore dollars.

So what are the most marked up items in convenience stores?

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I picked a couple of items that people tend to buy on the go, or things people get when a craving hits, and ranked them according to markup price based on average price.

Here are the results.

#10 Ice cream – 7% MARKUP

7% MARKUP

Convenience store price
7-Eleven: $14.95
Cheers: $14.70

Grocery store price
NTUC Fairprice: $13.90
Giant: $13.90

Yep, I grabbed Ben & Jerry’s for comparison, since you see that brand everywhere! The price difference is almost a dollar, and it seems pretty significant to me even though you’re already paying so much for ice cream.

#9 Instant noodles – 15% MARKUP

15% MARKUP

Convenience store price
7-Eleven: $2.90
Cheers: $3.10

Grocery store price
NTUC Fairprice: $2.60
Giant: $2.60

I think you get the most value when buying instant noodles from convenience stores.

Because the markup is not that high, and you get access to hot water as well if you need to eat on the go.

#8 Panadol – 18% MARKUP

18% MARKUP

Convenience store price
7-Eleven: $10.15
Cheers: $9.50

Grocery store price
NTUC Fairprice: $8.30
Giant: $9.50

The prices for this one are pretty varied and I’m not sure why. In this particular case, you should get Panadol Extra from NTUC.

#7 Wine – 35% MARKUP

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35% MARKUP

Convenience store price
7-Eleven: $38.40
Cheers: (I couldn’t find the same bottle in the exact size. There was only a mini version.)

Grocery store price
NTUC Fairprice: $28.60
Giant: $26.50

I chose a common brand of wine for this one, and it’s pretty shocking to see such a high mark up. Almost $10 more expensive!

It’s already pretty expensive to drink in Singapore, so it may not be the best idea to head to convenience stores for wine unless it’s an emergency house gift or something.

#6 Beer – 41% MARKUP

41% MARKUP

Convenience store price
7-Eleven: $4.10
Cheers: $4.10

Grocery store price
NTUC Fairprice: $2.80
Giant: $3.00

The convenience store beers were chilled but the grocery store ones were not, so that might have factored into the markup too.

#5 Chocolates – 46% MARKUP

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46% MARKUP

Convenience store price
7-Eleven: $2.55
Cheers: $2.40

Grocery store price
NTUC Fairprice: $1.70
Giant: $1.70

Do you ever get those chocolate cravings? I do. And I think around 80 cents is a lot more to pay for another candy bar.

You can almost buy 3 chocolate bars for the price of two, at a grocery store.

#4 Mints – 55% MARKUP

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55% MARKUP

Convenience store price
7-Eleven: $2.65
Cheers: $2.30

Grocery store price
NTUC Fairprice: $1.60
Giant: $1.60

I’m always getting mints and lozenges on the go cause my throat gets dry sometimes. And after seeing this, I think it might be a good idea to stock up on them in the grocery store first.

#3 Coke – 87% MARKUP

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87% MARKUP

Convenience store price
7-Eleven: $2.95 (Note that the promotional price was two for $3)
Cheers: $2.40

Grocery store price
NTUC Fairprice: $1.50
Giant: $1.35

The coke bottles in the grocery stores were not chilled, but the convenience store ones were, so that skews the comparison a little!

#2 Pads – 200% MARKUP 

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200% MARKUP

Convenience store price
7-Eleven: $5.50 for a pack of eight
Cheers: (No comparable brand)

Grocery store price
NTUC Fairprice: $5.10 for a pack of 16
Giant: $$2.95 for a pack of 8

Take this comparison with a pinch of salt as I couldn’t find the exact quantity to compare (they had packs of 8 and 16). And I couldn’t find the exact brand in Cheers either.

However, I can say that it is true and unfair how much higher pads are priced in convenience stores.

When we’re out and the red sea floods all of a sudden, sometimes we don’t have a choice but to buy pads from a convenience store. And that sucks.

#1 Bottled water – 362% MARKUP

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362% MARKUP

Convenience store price
7-Eleven: $2.00
Cheers: $2.20

Grocery store price
NTUC Fairprice: $0.55
Giant: $0.60

Okay this is my favourite discovery because when I stepped into NTUC, there was a sale for three chilled bottles of water going for just 85 cents. That’s less than 30 cents per bottle.

My mind was blown! (I was too used to buying ‘discounted’ water for $1.80 at convenience stores.)

The conclusion

It seems like convenience stores mark up the items that people need to get when they’re on the go.

And the less expensive the item, the higher the markup.

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Your money vs convenience

So if people are rushing from one appointment to another, and they need water to stay hydrated, mints to keep their breath fresh, or if Aunt Flow comes visiting all of a sudden… All the things you need are easily available, for a ‘special’ price.

I still love that we have convenience stores, and I think they’re a blessing when we have little emergencies or a craving hits. At the same time, I learned that I should be a little more careful with my shopping decisions or the costs will add up.

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