St. John Grocery Prices Move Closer to Other Islands

April 15, 2009 — While St. John's grocery stores usually top the price charts when the Licensing and Consumer Affairs Department sends out its market basket surveys, the latest one showed that some items are actually cheaper on St. John or the same price as on other islands.
A 46-ounce can of Bluebird brand orange juice was $2.55 at Starfish Market on St. John. This was the cheapest price territory-wide. St. John's other two stores charged far more, with the orange juice running $4.65 a can at Dolphin Market and $4.39 at Pine Peace mini-mart.
By comparison, the price ranged from $2.99 to $3.99 at the four supermarkets surveyed on St. Thomas, as well as the four surveyed on St. Croix. On St. Thomas, Bluebird orange juice was cheapest, $2.99 a can, at Plaza Extra, and most expensive at Pueblo Long Bay at $3.99. On St. Croix, the same-sized can of Bluebird orange juice was cheapest at the La Reine Pueblo with a price of $2.99 a can, and most expensive at $3.99 a can at the Golden Rock Pueblo.
And white onions were most expensive on St. Thomas, with the Food Center charging $1.99 a bag. The weight was not specified. Prices at the other stores on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John ranged from 95 to 99 cents.
While the market basket includes different items depending on the island, Holsum white bread was listed on the St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John surveys. The price was the same on all three islands — $3.09 a loaf.
Licensing surveyed four stores on St. Thomas. In addition to Food Center, Plaza Extra and Pueblo Long Bay, the Sub Base Pueblo was also on the list.
The best deal for all 30 items of the family food basket was found at Pueblo Long Bay, with a total of $88.76. Pueblo's Sub Base store came in at an extremely close second place with a food basket of $88.84, a difference of 8 cents between the two stores. From the February food basket survey, Licensing observed that the Pueblo supermarkets on St. Thomas were leading the way in uniform pricing.
In the February survey, Plaza Extra had the lowest priced food basket. However, the store fell in the middle of the March comparison with a basket priced at $90.24. Food Center had the highest-priced food basket at $105.20. The February survey also showed Food Center had the highest-priced food basket.
In addition to the Pueblo stores at Golden Rock and La Reine, the survey included Plaza Extra stores in Christiansted and Frederiksted. A total of 40 of the same items were compared at each location. The lowest-priced family food basket was found at Plaza Extra in Frederiksted with a price of $121.21. Plaza Extra's Christiansted location came in second with a total of $121.96, a difference of 75 cents between the two stores. In the February food basket survey, the findings indicated an obvious price disparity between the Plaza Extra stores. There was a difference of $7.07 for the same items of the food basket.
"DLCA has been advocating uniform pricing and will continue to pursue it throughout the territory," said acting Licensing Commissioner Wayne Biggs in a news release. "Consumers should be able to purchase the same items at all chain stores and not experience a vast difference in price."
St. Croix's third place went to Pueblo La Reine with a food basket of $123.50, followed by Pueblo's Golden Rock store with the highest-priced food basket at $131.26. The survey revealed a price difference of $7.76 among the Pueblo stores. In the February survey, the difference between the two Pueblo stores was $3.57.
The survey on St. John for the first time included Pine Peace, in addition to Dolphin and Starfish. Pine Peace had the lowest-priced food basket at $55.13, $1.76 cheaper than Starfish Market at $56.91and $5.60 cheaper than Dolphin Market at $60.73. All three stores were compared using a 24-item list.
The food basket survey is designed to inform consumers on which stores have the best prices on staple grocery items.
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