I stopped in last evening to pick up a prescription and ended up buying a few things I'd mysteriously forgotten I needed. (Why does this always happen to me at the grocery store?!) While standing in line, I decided I'd buy a pack of sugar-free Orbit Gum. I've been buying this particular confection for years, usually for about $1.09 a pack. Sometimes it even goes on sale for 99 cents.
Not at Safeway, not anymore. Orbit Gum is now a whopping $1.49 a pack. That's a 25 percent increase in price! Is there some cartel I don't know about that's protecting and ratcheting up the cost of gum? According to Reuters, Wrigley increased prices by 10 percent in 2007:
Wrigley said the increase was due in part to rising costs, but did not specify which costs. Food companies have been hit by higher costs for natural sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup as demand for use of crops in ethanol has sent prices soaring.Okay, so what about the additional 15 percent increase? That's Safeway gouging its customers. According to Forbes.com, Safeway focused this year on costly real estate investments. "Chairman and Chief Executive Steve Burd said Safeway chose to work less on lowering prices in 2008 to keep its earnings guidance intact in the current economic environment. Now it is planning to cut more prices heading into 2009." It's going to have to as shoppers to reduce their spending during the recession/depression and look for more frugally priced grocery stores.
Hopefully we consumers can encourage Safeway and its ilk to drop prices by taking our dollars to discounters such as Wal-Mart, Bottom Dollar, Target, and the like. Here's one cost-savings tip: buy your Orbit Gum at Walgreens. It's only $1.19 a pack.