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Publix vs. Wal-Mart…are the Commercials really true?

Most of Florida is made up of relocators from not only around the Country, but also around the World. We seek what we know, what we are familiar with for the everyday life choices because it is just human to do so.  When we first got here, we looked for whatever was close to us.  We found a Publix several miles behind us, so it seemed natural to just shop for our groceries there.   On my very first encounter there, I had sticker shock.  How could a frozen pizza be over $7?  First impressions can be a doozy, and  unfortunately that was mine of Publix.  But because it was close by, I continued to run up there for milk and the necessities.

Wal-Mart is not close to me whatsoever, I either have to travel down 192 one way and go to a not so savory one or hit up the one in Cagans Crossings which is a good 10-15 minutes from my house.  Wal-Mart is something most are familiar with, and because that is where I originally grocery shopped in WI, it was a no brainer to just shop there for the weekly groceries and keep Publix as my “milk and bread runs.”

I have seen the commercials running here in Florida about the cheaper prices, and for that, I do have some insight on since I have now shopped at both quite frequently over the past 2.5 years we have lived here. First off, yes, Wal-Mart is cheaper for many things, it’s what they are KNOWN for.  That being said, you are paying for what you get as well.  I can’t tell you how many times I had a question there and found no one to help me, plus add the tourists in and it makes for one stressful time to grocery shop.

In WI I wrote out my list, figured out my meals, and went to the Store like most do.  It was a relaxing time for me to do on my own, to have an hour to myself to think about what I wanted or needed to buy and just shop peacefully.  I have found that here at Wal-Mart it almost feels like a competition, the “Amazing Race” grocery shop style.  The Vacationers are there to stock up and will grab in front of you, not move their carts, and seem to  simply not care that you are there to just do your weekly grocery shop.  It’s an important thing to come to terms with when moving here, at least close to the Parks, because Tourists will always come into play during major times of the year.

Now Publix on the other hand is the complete opposite when it comes to the shopping experience- I LOVE going there with my list, saying hello to the employees who are kind and friendly, and they are always asking if I found everything ok.  When I haven’t, they go and find it for me or give me a rain check. The meat section is EXCELLENT and they will actually make the serving you need, or something that you usually buy that they may not have out.  The produce is fresh and I have yet to have a bad apple or banana from here.  The prices are higher, but they also have “Buy One Get One” offers every week, so I stock up every time I go which helps the next food budget, and so on.  The Service and Quality aren’t discussed in these commercials, just the bottom line.  Again, Wal-Mart for the most part is cheaper, but I guarantee after shopping there so many times, you won’t mind paying a bit higher or doing the “BOGO” deals after wanting to pull your hair out from the lack of quality and service given at the latter.

My point is that you have to try a place twice to make sure your first impression was right.  When we shopped Publix for the first time, it was right after we had moved and we still had “WI Prices” in our head. After you get acclimated to your surroundings, you start to figure out what will work and what won’t with your budget, time and sanity.

I will also like to add that I am sure there are many Wal-Marts out there that are not like the ones here in Florida that may be of higher quality or customer service, I am just speaking of the ones I know of that I have personally shopped for years since living here.  I now only run there for non-food items that I know I can grab and get in and out without spending a day waiting in long lines.  Give each a shot when you relocate here, and see what you find to work for you and your family.

*****As of recent, commercials starting running in the Orlando area, not sure of all Central FL or Florida, Walmart is now honoring competitors like Publix, Winn-Dixie, and other Stores. Click HERE for the story.  A very interesting twist. For those of you who live here already, where do you shop and do you favor one over the other? Does this recent BOGO news change where you will be shopping? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts!

8 Comments »

  1. I love shopping at Publix, Aldi and Target. Clean stores, good products, nice employees. Thank you so much for this post! I have tried explaining to friends why I will choose Publix over WalMart.

  2. I am not a fan of Wal Mart, especially for produce. Individually wrapped items? Plus there isn’t anyone around, ever. I feel badly for the folks who do work on the floor because they have to answer questions for everyone. I am willing to pay more for the better experience

  3. We live in Citrus county and don’t have as many tourists as you do but this time of the year we have the “snowbirds” and I have to say they are awful. However, after two years of being down here from MI I am still sticker shocked when I go to Publix! If we don’t get it at Walmart we go to Winn Dixie, they have the best deals on meat (besides a local butcher) by us.

  4. Thanks for this update. We enjoy purchasing some fresh produce as well as fixings for lunch when we are there. Have always gone to Wal-Mart because it was closer to where we were. As you stated, it really is a “race” to see if you can get out in one piece. After reading this, will definitely check out the Publix or maybe even a WinDixie. Thanks for another great article.

  5. I am not a Wal-Mart shopper at all. I can count on one hand how many times I have been in a Wal-Mart in the last 10 years. I seriously would rather pay a higher price at Publix, or any other local chain. Wal-Mart has put way too many small businesses under at least in our area. I won’t support them because of that. I know where we are going to be moving in Tennessee for our “summer/fall” season has limited places to shop for groceries, so I will be forced to shop Wal-Mart, but when we are on our Florida “winter” time, I will shop at other stores.

  6. Our Wal-Mart is pretty nice. We shop there for all dry goods and a local Hispanic grocery for meats and produce. We do shop some at Publix, for the sale stuff, some meats, and some harder to find items.

  7. I find that I end up using both for exactly the reasons you mentioned. The Super Walmart is right across the street from me and the closest place while Publix is about a mile and a half, still very close and convenient. I also love that if you sign up for Publix’s online program and such and take the time to go to their site when making your list, you can enter items from the weekly ad and not only print out your list but based on the location you selected it will print on the list exactly which aisle in the store the item can be found in. I found this SUPER helpful when learning a new store. I do tend to get things in Walmart such as frozen pizza, 20 packs of Soda , bottled water, etc. but I try to make that trip when I am getting things like, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, which are much cheaper there then the grocery store. Being so close I find I have been able to judge out times that are better for going to Walmart and avoiding some of the tourist crowd which helps a ton.