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Here Are The Most Overpriced Grocery Stores In America

grocery stores overpriced
The Most Overpriced Grocery Stores In AmericaSarah Ceniceros

It’s no secret that food (and living in general) is expensive right now. The cost of many pantry essentials has soared, fast food value meals are becoming less valuable, and even celebrities are feeling the sting of their grocery bills.

Inflation has forced many people to rethink the way they shop. Some are forgoing expensive ingredients and even scaling back how much they eat entirely. But the first thing you can do to shop smarter is choose the right store.

We’ve already rounded up some of the cheapest grocery stores in America. And now you may be shocked by some of the supermarkets on the other end of the spectrum.

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There are many factors that contribute to grocery-store prices. The supply chain (most recently seen with this year’s egg-gate), an area’s cost of living, ingredient quality, and other supermarket competitors are just some of the variables that can impact your grocery bill.

Regardless, that doesn’t make current prices any less ridiculous. If you’d like to avoid buying $25 water, check out the five most expensive grocery stores in America so you can shop somewhere else.

Erewhon Market

los angeles eases pandemic restrictions on tourist entertainment industry
Alexi Rosenfeld - Getty Images

Celebrities and influencers in Southern California are flocking to Erewhon—and certainly not for a bargain. The health food store was founded in Boston in 1966, moved to Los Angeles two years later, and has remained a neighborhood spot for 40 years. The store was purchased by now-CEO Tony Antoci in 2011 and became a miniature empire, with nine locations across Los Angeles County.

Erewhon is known for their wildly expensive groceries (like $25 loaves of bread), their tonic bar serving $17 “Hailey Bieber skin smoothies,” and their prestigious $200 annual membership. It's the go-to spot for LA’s elite and for tourists who are curious about the hype. But it’s far outside the price range for average American shoppers.

Whole Foods Market

exterior of whole foods store in commack, new york
Newsday LLC - Getty Images

There’s a reason why Whole Foods is often referred to as “Whole Paycheck.” Since being founded in 1980, Whole Foods has earned a reputation for being one of the most overpriced grocery stores in the country. It’s faced scandal after scandal, from selling a bottle of water with three stalks of asparagus for $6, to their former CEO blaming America’s obesity crisis on “making poor choices” and “ignorance.”

In 2017, it was purchased by Amazon, which led to price decreases, but Whole Foods still remains financially inaccessible to many shoppers. And now, with the rising cost of living, the store’s exclusivity is even more blatant.

Acme Markets

company signs
Dorann Weber - Getty Images

If you live in the Mid-Atlantic and have ever shopped at Acme, it shouldn’t be surprising that it made this list. It’s been in operation for over 130 years and remains one of the most popular chains in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

It’s also one of the most expensive. According to a 2022 study of Delaware Valley grocery stores by Consumers’ Checkbook, Acme’s prices were among the highest in the area—and their product quality was among the lowest.

However, Acme's parent company, Albertsons, was recently acquired by Kroger, the largest supermarket operator in the country. The added resources that come from the Kroger network may potentially lower prices, but for now it remains overpriced.

The Fresh Market

the fresh market grocery store exterior
Nielsoncaetanosalmeron, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Fresh Market was founded by Ray and Beverly Berry in 1982 after they took a trip to Europe and were inspired by all the open-air markets. They now have 159 locations in 22 states and are dedicated to offering high-quality groceries.

The Fresh Market sells great products in every department. You can stock up on house-made croissants, freshly cut floral arrangements, specialty cheeses, and luxurious private-label products sourced from artisans all over the world. It sounds like the grocery store of everyone’s dreams—but there’s a catch. It’s pricey. With most of its locations situated in affluent areas, it’s clear that their primary demographic is not the average shopper.

Harris Teeter

harris teeter grocery store
John Greim - Getty Images

Harris Teeter is a subsidiary of Kroger that has over 250 locations across the Southeast. Founded in 1960, the regional chain is beloved for its store-brand ice cream, prepared food, and Harry the Happy Dragon mascot. The stores used to have a Harry-themed kiosks offering free cookies, but they were sadly discontinued during the pandemic.

Harris Teeter is best known for its high-quality products, well-maintained facilities, and friendly atmosphere—but it doesn’t come without a cost. According to a recent article in The Charlotte Observer, Harris Teeter sells some of the most expensive groceries in its home state of North Carolina.

Where do you shop for groceries? Let us know in the comments.

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