Shoppers recognize ALDI as the grocer with the lowest prices, according to a survey by Market Force Information, which ranked Costco and Wal-Mart in second and third place on price. The results mark the fourth year in a row with ALDI at the top for low prices, and the discount retailer also ranked in the top five for its private-label brands, price and tag accuracy, sustainability, staff courtesy, speedy checkout and nutrition information, according to the survey.
Coffee drinkers aren't giving up their fix, but some say they're choosing from several brands based on price. Coffee bean prices jumped 77% last year and continue to rise even faster than gas prices. J.M. Smucker this week said it was raising prices an average of 11% on its packaged Dunkin' Donuts, Folgers and Millstone coffees, the third increase since last summer. Kraft, Peet's and Green Mountain also have raised prices recently.
The drop in crude oil prices means wildcatters may drop their plans for new domestic exploration, experts say. Major oil companies likely will be able to maintain last year's spending level on exploration although they may reduce production and shut down some rigs.