Buying Groceries Online vs. In-Store: We Find Out Which Is Cheaper

Asian woman wearing face mask and rubber glove push shopping cart in suppermarket departmentstore. Girl choosing, looking grocery things to buy at shelf during coronavirus crisis or covid19 outbreak.

As inflation costs you more each month for many everyday essentials, you may be wondering how to save money while shopping for food. We now have a handful of convenient options for buying groceries online but, there are delivery fees, tipping and even membership fees to consider. So I’ve done some math to see if buying groceries online is cheaper or more expensive than buying them in the store.

Two services, Amazon Fresh (national) and FreshDirect (currently available in the Northeast only) manage their own supply chain and inventory, and thus set prices to compete with brick-and-mortar supermarkets. Both are ultra convenient since you simply place a full order and then set a delivery day and time — often as soon as the same day. Instacart (national) is a similar delivery service, but this third-party online grocery operation simply aggregates from your local stores so you’re getting the same prices, although you can price-compare area stores more easily.