Sunday, November 8, 2009

Princeton Price Comparison Round 2: School Supplies

Evening, everyone. Welcome back from Fall Break! Tonight, we’ve got round two of the Princeton Price Comparison. Last week, we compared prices of various junk food products sold at the Wawa, CVS, and U-Store to determine the cheapest vendor. Results were inconclusive, so we’re hoping that we can gain some valuable insights this week.

We’ve got a slightly modified format for tonight: we’re comparing the prices of school supplies, but, since the Wawa only really sells basic food and drink, we’ll only be comparing the prices of the CVS and U-Store.

But first, let me address, a commenter’s question from last week: “For food items, how does the U-store membership factor in?” Membership is a slightly tricky issue. There’s a $25 up-front fee to join, but once you’re a member, you’re entitled to 10% off most store items. Basically, it becomes economically sensible to become a U-Store member if the amount you spend on your purchases, in our case food, with 10% deducted plus the $25 cover charge would be less than what you would pay full price.

You’re probably wondering whether it’s even worth becoming a member with a $25 cover charge. Lucky for you, I’ve done the math. Basically, it’s only worth becoming a U-Store member only if purchase $250 or more worth of merchandise. But I digress… on to this evening’s business.

1 Subject notebook
CVS – 5.19
U-Store – 3.50

Advantage: U-Store

10 no. 2 lead pencils
CVS – 1.49
U-Store – 1.50

Advantage: Even

100 index cards
CVS – 2.19
U-Store – 1.00

Advantage: U-Store

Portfolio 3-star folder
CVS – 2.69
U-Store – 1.50

Advantage: U-Store

Weekly Planner
CVS – 4.39
U-Store – 8.95

Advantage: CVS

CVS – 9.49
U-Store – 12.25

Advantage: CVS

Interesting. The U-Store appears to have CVS licked in the majority of categories and by a decent margin. But if you look closely, you’ll notice an interesting trend. On “smaller” products (such as paperclips and pencils), the U-Store clearly has better prices. On most “bigger” products (planner and stapler), however, CVS’s prices are so much lower that they offset the U-Store’s better “small product” prices. From this, we can draw our first conclusion from the study:

It’s probably better to purchase “smaller” school supplies (paperclips, notebooks, pencils) at the U-Store than at the CVS.

Yea! We’ve made some progress! Of course, we don’t know entirely for sure because of the small sample size. But hopefully, as more products are tagged and surveyed, we can start to get a better idea for general trends. Until next week…


Anonymous said...

I'm starting to wonder if this series is being written with the deliberate intention of making the U-Store look like a good deal. In my experience, no matter what you're buying, CVS and/or The Wa will have it significantly cheaper.

Anonymous said...

The best plan is to just stock up on supplies when you're home, especially during back to school sales etc. I mean we can debate about whether the U-store or CVS is cheaper, but the fact is that they're both expensive compared to Walmart or Target

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