Pricing of staple foods at supermarkets versus small food stores

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35 Scopus citations


Prices affect food purchase decisions, particularly in lower-income communities, where access to a range of food retailers (including supermarkets) is limited. The aim of this study was to examine differences in staple food pricing between small urban food stores and the closest supermarkets, as well as whether pricing differentials varied based on proximity between small stores and larger retailers. In 2014, prices were measured for 15 staple foods during store visits in 140 smaller stores (corner stores, gas-marts, dollar stores, and pharmacies) in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN and their closest supermarket. Mixed models controlling for store type were used to estimate the average price differential between: (a) smaller stores and supermarkets; (b) isolated smaller stores (>1 mile to closest supermarket) and non-isolated smaller stores; and (c) isolated smaller stores inside versus outside USDA-identified food deserts. On average, all items except white bread were 10–54% more expensive in smaller stores than in supermarkets (p < 0.001). Prices were generally not significantly different in isolated stores compared with non-isolated stores for most items. Among isolated stores, there were no price differences inside versus outside food deserts. We conclude that smaller food stores have higher prices for most staple foods compared to their closest supermarket, regardless of proximity. More research is needed to examine staple food prices in different retail spaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number915
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 15 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Corner stores
  • Food affordability
  • Food deserts
  • Health disparities


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