Commissaries to Publish Regional Savings

The Defense Commissary Agency is improving the way patron savings are calculated by comparing commissary prices on the items that patrons purchase most frequently to better reflect shoppers’ experiences.

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“These price comparisons will now be made at the regional and national level, to better account for price differences across geographic areas,” said Joseph H. Jeu, DecA’s director and CEO.

“Grocery costs outside the gate vary widely by region, so we’re enhancing our savings calculations to reflect what our service members and their families experience in and out of the commissary,” he added. “Finally, price comparisons will be monitored more frequently to ensure the best savings for patrons.” 

Regional Savings Levels

Price comparisons on specific items will be rolled up into regional savings levels. This change, which does not affect patrons’ out-of-pocket expense, will allow the agency to set a better baseline of savings on the products shoppers tend to buy most, Jeu said.

To calculate regional savings, DeCA is comparing prices on a selection of more than 1,000 representative items in each commissary with the actual prices for those same items in a variety of grocery stores in each region, including three commercial retailers in the area of each commissary. This representative market basket is standard across all regions, DeCA officials said, and includes items from many areas of the store, including grocery, meat and produce.

The commissary agency also uses standard industry data to compare average prices at national level on all 38,000 items carried in its stores. This is done to ensure the savings methodology reflects the entire assortment, as well as representative regional savings, officials explained.

DeCA will complete the price comparison on more than 1,000 items in the market basket at the regional level on a rotating quarterly basis and will monitor national average prices each month. With this frequency, officials said, the agency can closely monitor continuity of the savings benefit throughout the year. DeCA will publish updated savings levels annually, they added.

Overseas Commissaries

The regional approach will be adjusted slightly to calculate savings for the agency’s overseas locations. Because grocery stores overseas don’t carry the same assortment of products as the commissaries, officials explained, DeCA will use a cost-of-living index to estimate market prices of groceries in the area around each overseas location. 

“The update of our savings measurement does not change the dollars our patrons spend or the savings we offer – this is only an enhancement of how the savings level is calculated,” Jeu said.

More information on DeCA’s overall transformation is available on the Frequently Asked Questions page in the Customer Service section of the agency’s website.