Stocking Up: Comparing NoMA Grocery Stores

NoMA grocery store produce section

Walmart, Giant or Harris Teeter? After three weeks of comprehensive study, one of these businesses proves cheaper than the rest.

Just over three weeks ago, I embarked on a mission to compare food prices from three major supermarkets in the NoMa area. To make it a fair comparison, I selected a set grocery list and tried my best to buy the same name-brand products at each location (e.g. Sargento cheese) over a three week span. By doing this, I could more accurately compare the prices of each product over the three locations. Unfortunately, this effort proved daunting. Although some brands were available across all of the stores, most items had some difference in brand, size, and weight. I tried my best to accurately add and subtract value from my receipts to minimize these differences and make the findings more accurate.

Here’s what I discovered:

Shopping list

Price

After the three-week experience, I can confidently say that Walmart is the cheapest grocery store in the NoMa area. Here are my full results:

  • Walmart: $91.06
  • Harris Teeter: $116.56
  • Giant: $117.06

As you can tell, Walmart was more than $25 cheaper than its two competitors. Now I would remain skeptical of these numbers for the simple fact that I could not buy the same products every time over the three locations. That being said, even if you were to calculate a possible error of +/- $10 at each location, Walmart is still the cheapest option.

Accessibility

Based on price alone, Walmart is the obvious choice; however, it’s important to note that it’s the furthest away. Although only a 15-minute walk from TWC’s Residential and Academic Facility (RAF), it may not be the best option for individuals who shop frequently during the week or only tend to only grab a few items at a time. Additionally, Walmart is less centrally located than both Harris Teeter and Giant. For TWC interns  who tend to take the metro home, Harris Teeter is less than a block away from the NoMa-Gallaudet stop and tends to have light crowds. For those walking from the Capitol Hill neighborhood or Union station, Giant is an easy place to stop for a midweek meal.

NoMa Grocery Stores
A look at the three grocery stores closest to the RAF in NoMA.

Variety

In terms of food variety, I would put Walmart at the bottom of my list. Both Giant and Harris Teeter offer more organic options and greater product variety. Although I can’t really speak to the quality of food at each location, the fruit, vegetable, and baked food options at Giant and Harris Teeter often looked fresher than those at Walmart, however the study was far too limited to really make any sort of substantive assessment.

In sum, I hope to suggest that there are a variety of factors other than price that should be taken into account when determining the best grocery shopping options for each individual. I hope my findings help current and future TWC students find the right grocery shopping options for them while still keeping their options open to everything NoMa has to offer.

Matthew Lawson headshot

Matthew Lawson is a political science major at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. He was a TWC Spring 2018 Intern at the Near East South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies, a Department of Defense regional center geared toward promoting international security cooperation through facilitated dialogue and academic expertise.

Student Blog