Local 6 news in Central Florida is accusing Walmart of setting their prices for sugar and other “staples” by demographic — charging more in stores where the population isn’t as wealthy as other neighborhoods. Walmart’s spokesperson claims to be offended by this accusation.
Local 6 says:
“When we see that a nearby competitor might temporarily lower a price on an item, our stores have the authority to adjust their price lower. This can happen in a very small vicinity of stores,” the company said in a statement to Local 6.
However, the Problem Solvers found that the prices concerned were not temporary as Wal-Mart described, but consistent over a period of at least two months.
Barnaby [a consumer who reported the price differences] said she thinks that Wal-Mart is charging more for the same products in poorer neighborhoods than in neighborhoods with higher incomes.
“It disgusts me that the people who can least afford to buy the food have to pay more money than everyone else does,” Barnaby said.
That’s a serious accusation and the Problem Solvers probed further, Cooper reported.
First, Cooper looked at the most recent census data, which showed the median household income is highest in Apopka — where the prices were the lowest, compared to incomes in Mt. Dora and Clarcona/Pine Hills where the prices were higher.
Cooper brought that data to Wal-Mart’s attention and a spokeswoman for the company said she was offended by the suggestion that the company was charging more in poorer neighborhoods.
She insisted that Wal-Mart does not price by demographic, that it remains the low price leader in every market — and that the three stores we visited represent entirely different markets with different sets of competition, Cooper reported.
But when the Problem Solvers checked the competition, they did not find a similar pattern of pricing, Cooper said.
They visited Publix stores in the Windermere/Ocoee area, the Rosemont neighborhood of Orlando, and Altamonte.
The prices of the sugar, condensed milk and asparagus were consistent at all three stores. Visits to different Winn-Dixie stores generated the same results, according to Cooper.
Here are the prices they checked:
$2.38 Mt. Dora
$2.36 Clarcona/Pine Hills
$1.54 Mt. Dora
$1.56 Clarcona/Pine Hills
$2.42 Mt. Dora
$2.54 Clarcona/Pine Hills