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Sticker shocked? As prices rise, shoppers shift their shopping habits

grocery outlet 1.jpg
Caroline Feraday
A new "extreme value" supermarket attracted shoppers in Ventura County

Shoppers are flocking to the opening a new low-priced supermarket in Ventura County.

A balloon arch marks the entrance of this new grocery store in Thousand Oaks, on their first day of opening to the public.

But this is not the kind of inflation that shoppers have on their mind.

In fact, shoppers are being prompted to shift their shopping habits because of the highest inflation in roughly 40 years – and seek out lower prices at the grocery store – says Jorge Lopez, the co-owner of the new Grocery Outlet Bargain Market in Thousand Oaks.

"I think everybody is looking to save a little bit, with the prices out there across everything, rent, housing, fuel prices. So if you can come in and save on groceries..."

He says they're a mix of a Costco warehouse style store, and traditional supermarkets like Ralph's.

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Caroline Feraday
The store opened to the public on Thursday

This is one of over 400 such stores country-wide, which are independently operated by local families. They describe themselves not just as value – but “extreme-value” – deep discounts which Lopez says are possible because their buyers seek out excess inventory and seasonal closeouts, which, he says, puts them ahead with supply chain issues.

"Our buyers are opportunistic and have long term relationships with companies out there. They're able to purchase merchandise at a deep discount which we pass on to our customers.

"We are named brand, which is a little different to Aldi who have their own-brand.

"You're not going to find the same items every time you come. It's a little bit of a treasure hunt experience"

The Consumer Price Index report for June showed that costs of food costs were up 9.1% on the year.

And about 90% of Americans are concerned about food prices, according to a survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Alpha Foods.

That concern for budget is reflected by those flocking here for the opening day.

"I have five kids and we are somewhat of a bigger family so making sure my fridge and freezer are full is a constant, even more so with school starting back, said one mom. "I remembered them having really good deals."

"The $5 coupon off was very attractive," another told KCLU.

Where other stores have been cutting back or closing, the age of the value supermarket seems to be thriving.

Caroline won an LA Press Club Award in 2021 for Use Of Sound. However, she started her broadcasting career in the UK, working on both radio and television for the BBC, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism. She moved to Los Angeles in 2013 and is both an American and British citizen. Caroline lives in Agoura Hills with her daughter, and joined the KCLU team in 2020.