Budgeting & Budgets

Sam’s Club, CVS, Walmart, Lowes Food & Food Lion – Who Has The Best Prices?

So Pam and I were talking about where to shop for the best prices and rather than guess, we got in the car and went price comparing.

To get a wide comparison of prices we went to Sam’s Club for wholesale prices, Walmart for bragging cheap prices, Lowes Food for your typical grocery store, Food Lion for a discount grocery store, and CVS drug store. We added CVS to the mix because I had heard that paper products were often cheaper at CVS.

We tried to compare the same products from store to store but where we couldn’t we did our best to find good comparisons.

SAM’s Club

  • Bread
    Wonder Bread 2 pack of 24oz loaves – $3.32

  • Gallon of Milk
    Whole $3.29
    Skim $2.79

  • Large Eggs
    18 Count – $2.15

  • Paper Towels
    Bounty Select-a-Size 12 pack, 880 square feet – $17.58 ($1.45 per roll) ($0.019/sq ft)
    Generic Members Mark 12 pack 907.2 square feet – $13.86 ($1.15 per roll) ($0.015/sq ft)

  • Toilet Paper
    Generic Members Mark 36 rolls 860 square feet – $15.68 ($0.44 per roll)($0.018/sq ft)
    Charmin Ultra Soft 36 rolls 854 square feet – $18.32 ($0.51 per roll)($0.021/sq ft)

Lowes Food

  • Bread
    Wonder Bread 20oz Loaf – $2.49

  • Gallon of Milk
    Whole – $3.89
    Skim – $3.89

  • Large Eggs
    18 Count – $2.99

  • Paper Towels
    Bounty Select-a-Size 12 pack, 704 square feet – $16.99 ($1.42 per roll)($0.024/sq ft)
    Generic 8 pack 376.4 square feet – $7.99 ($0.99 per roll)($0.021/sq ft)

  • Toilet Paper
    Chairman Ultra Soft 24 rolls 569.3 square feet – $15.35 ($0.64 per roll)($0.027/sq ft)
    Generic 12 rolls 300 square feet – $7.99 ($0.66 per roll)($0.027/sq ft)


  • Bread
    Wonder Bread 20 oz loaf – $2.33
    Wonder Bread 24 oz loaf – $2.42

  • Gallon of Milk
    Whole $3.98
    Skim $3.84

  • Large Eggs
    18 Count – $2.28

  • Paper Towels
    Bounty Select-a-Size 6 rolls 484 square feet – $11.64 ($1.94 per roll)($0.024/sq ft)

  • Toilet Paper
    Charmin Ultra Soft 24 rolls 569.3 square feet – $14.24 ($0.59 per roll)($0.025 sq/ft)
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CVS Drug Store

  • Bread

  • Milk

  • Eggs

  • Paper Towels
    Bounty 1 roll 63.2 square feet $2.19 ($2.19 per roll)($0.034/sq ft)
    CVS Generic 3 rolls 151.2 sq ft $2.99 ($1.03 per roll)($0.019/sq ft)

  • Toilet Paper
    Charmin 12 rolls 284.6 square feet – $10.99 ($0.92 per roll)($0.038/sq ft)
    Generic 12 rolls 1311.5 square feet (single ply) – $8.99 ($0.75 per roll)($0.014/double ply/sq ft)

Food Lion

  • Bread
    Wonder 20oz Loaf – $2.49
    Generic Bread 20oz Loaf – $1.74

  • Gallon of Milk
    Whole – $3.79
    Skim – $3.79

  • Large Eggs
    18 Count – $2.49

  • Paper Towels
    Generic Select-a-Size 1 roll 75.6 square feet – $1.78 ($1.78 per roll)($0.023/sq ft)
    Bounty Select-a-Size 1 roll 63.2 square feet – $2.23($2.23 per roll)($0.035/sq ft)

  • Toilet Paper
    Charmin Ultra Soft 427 square feet 18 rolls – $11.61 ($0.65 per roll)($0.027/sq ft)


So after all that data gathering, what are the results?

The Least Expensive Place:
Bread – Sam’s Club
Milk – Sam’s Club
Eggs – Sam’s Club
Paper Towels – Sam’s Club
Toilet Paper – Sam’s Club

The Most Expensive Place:
Bread – Food Lion
Milk – Walmart
Eggs – Lowes Food
Paper Towels – Food Lion
Toilet Paper – Food Lion

Biggest Surprise

The biggest surprise was that even if you turn your single ply toilet paper from CVS into double ply, the CVS generic toilet paper is the least expensive. It was only because the name brand toilet paper was more expensive that I did not give CVS the least expensive rating. After all it is a bit less desirable as single ply paper.

I was under the impression that Food Lion was a lower cost grocery store but from the data gathered tonight, that’s not the case. The warehouse store was a better deal but what if you don’t have room to store all the stuff? And I guess Pam and I should compare the different warehouse clubs next to see what the differences are there.

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I was very surprised to see Bounty paper towels sold in an 18 pack at both Sam’s Club and Lowes Food but if you look the Lowes 18 pack is 176 square feet smaller so it would be wrong to compare the 18 pack price. If you did that then you’d say that Lowes Food was cheaper and you’d be wrong.

About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.


  • Overall, it was a great piece. However, most of these comparisons are unfair to stores that run a number of weekly specials, such as Food Lion, as opposed to stores with a marketing strategy to keep all prices generally lower across brands.

    For instance, if you do a price comparison, you can’t just compare Charmin Toilet Paper, Tide Detergent, and Bounty Paper Towels at various stores unless you must have that brand. Perhaps Food Lion runs these items a bit higher regularly, but runs an MVP sale on a weekly basis for less than anything Wal-Mart has. One week it might be Wisk detergent, Cottonelle Toilet Paper, and Brawny paper towels, and they might beat Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club on these items but you completely missed this comparison. If you catch Food Lion when they do run Bounty, Charmin, and Tide on sale, they might beat Wal-Mart and Sam’s by a sizable margin. Using this strategy, and not focusing on a single brand, I think you would have found different results.

    That’s personally why, in my own comparisons, I believe I’m able to shop for less at Food Lion than Wal-Mart (I don’t have a Sams or Lowes). I check for weekly sales, I usually don’t have to have a certain brand, and stock up when the brand I must have goes on sale. I don’t guess there’s a short way to say what I’m trying to say. But if you shop at a store with weekly specials, like Food Lion, a valid shopping comparison might not include 10 specific brands of 10 specific items.

    •  You are out of your mind.  I have a Food Lion less than a mile away and I still drive to Walmart over 10 miles away.  Food Lion’s “specials” or MVP buys are still more expensive than Walmart’s prices.  For example, Breyers Ice Cream at Food Lion  is $6.50 whille at Walmart the same half gallon is under $3.00.  There are so many more examples its pathetic and I feel for those consumers who don’t compare prices  to those at Food Lion.  But I have been telling everyone myself because I believe it is price gouging.

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