If you've ever compared prices to find which store sells the same item for the cheaper price, that's smart shopping. But what about when you go to the same chain and find it for a cheaper price in another city?
It may be dollars and cents, but it adds up on your monthly budget.
The NBCLA I-Team went shopping at 10 different Target stores, buying the same nine products at each location, and found the price tags were all over the map — even when two stores were in the same community.
At one Van Nuys target, a customer will spend $61.21 before tax. But at the other Van Nuys Target the total is $64.91. That's $3.70 more for the same items.
"You could be overspending by a significant amount of money," money saving expert Andrea Woroch said.
Woroch said even though it may be surprising, it's all perfectly legal.
"What we're seeing is that these retailers adjust prices based on a few different factors," she said.
She said they'll look at:
- How much people are paying for housing in the area
- Labor costs for their specific location
- How much people are making in that area
"Because they are trying to optimize the amount of money that they can make for a certain product," she said.
Target responded by saying "at times, guests will find different prices based on what we're seeing with the market ..." and they offer a "price match guarantee."
Online, that price match guarantee says "if you find a current lower price within 14 days after purchase, just bring in the proof and we will adjust your payment to the lower price."
But the customer has to be the one to request a price drop.
Further proof, Woroch says, that the consumer is the one who has to be alert in the aisle.
"If you're not shopping around and comparing prices, you're gonna leave money on the table," she said.
So how do you know you're getting the best price at your store?
Woroch said to make a small list of the items you buy all the time.
One week, buy those items at your regular store and keep the receipt. Another week, try the next closest store and buy those same items to compare the totals.
When NBCLA tried this same experiment at 10 different Walmart stores, all of its prices were exactly the same.
See the full story Monday, Nov. 4 on the NBC4 News at 11 p.m.