FORT LEE, Va. – Commissary overall worldwide customer savings were 25 percent for fiscal 2020, reported the Defense Commissary Agency.
The latest savings report reflects the market basket average that compares the pricing of commissary products with retailers outside the gate.
When it comes to delivering the commissary benefit, the savings are the thing for Bill Moore, DeCA’s director and CEO.
“To me it’s all about the benefit; how do we deliver the 23.7 percent savings our Congress mandated,” Moore said. “The analogy I like to use is for every dollar spent in the commissary, you have roughly saved yourself a quarter compared to what you would have spent outside the commissary. Across the agency, if we have $4 billion in revenue, we’ve saved our customers around the globe a $1 billion in their grocery expenses with the 25 percent savings we achieved in 2020.”
Congress requires that DeCA maintain the global savings at levels reasonably consistent with the fiscal 2016 baseline of 23.7 percent. “I am confident in the way we measure, the savings are real,” Moore said. “I do believe we need to better educate our eligible patrons on the savings and then we have to earn their trust. I want to show them how we calculate and develop those savings, and then let them reach their own conclusions.”
The customer savings reflects DeCA’s partnership with its industry partners to consistently offer patrons the lowest prices possible through programs such as the agency’s Your Everyday Savings (YES)! Program. YES! lowers prices year-round on trending items that commercial retailers often reduce temporarily as “loss leaders” to attract customers into their stores hoping they’ll buy their higher-priced products.
DeCA also sells private label products, known as commissary store brands, which offer high-quality products at even lower prices. “Every grocery chain offers private label items, and it’s an option our patrons expect in their commissaries,” Moore said. “I’m very excited about the private label opportunities we have, and how we will refine our strategy going forward.”
The customer savings report also shows figures specific to each geographic area, indicating how much, on average, a patron could expect to save on grocery purchases in comparison with local grocers in that area. DeCA measures savings for a region so it can better monitor how much commissary patrons actually save in the geographic area in which they shop.
The agency also checks local prices at major retailers near commissaries, quarterly, to see how DeCA pricing compares in order to ensure that commissary customers are saving money when they shop their commissary.
Because the cost of living varies by geographic region, Congress requires DeCA to report on savings regionally. DeCA compares prices with commercial grocers, including at least one supercenter, in the local area of each commissary in the United States. The savings comparison measures 38,000 items at a regional level and local prices of about 1,000 products, which are representative of a shopper’s typical market basket.
“It is all about the benefit,” Moore said. “I do believe the savings make a significant difference to our customers’ quality of life. Even after my father retired from the Army as a combat veteran, I remember him and my mom passing several grocery stores for their weekly visit to the commissary because of the savings.”
The fiscal 2020 patron savings versus the fiscal 2016 baseline are provided as follows (percentages rounded to the nearest tenth):
For information on savings by region, see the tables below.
|FY 2020 SAVINGS VS. BASELINE OVERALL|
|AREA||FY 2016 BASELINE % SAVINGS||FY 2020 % SAVINGS|
|Total U.S. (including AK & HI)||20.2%||21.1%|
|FY 2020 SAVINGS VS. BASELINE U.S. BY REGION|
|REGION||FY 2016 BASELINE % SAVINGS||FY 2020 % SAVINGS|
|New England (25 stores)||21.4%||21.8%|
|South Atlantic (22 stores)||19.9%||18.7%|
|North Central (13 stores)||20.2%||21.4%|
|South Central (26 stores)||18.1%||18.9%|
|Mountain (15 stores)||17.6%||20.0%|
|Pacific (22 stores)||20.9%||22.6%|
|Alaska & Hawaii (7 stores)||32.6%||33.2%|
|Total U.S. (130 stores)||20.2%||21.1%|
Note: Baseline percent savings for all U.S. commissaries shopped in Fall 2016 (177 commissaries)