Those Little Numbers on Your Grocery Shelf: What IS Unit Pricing?

What DO those numbers mean?

Yesterday was the fourth time this year I’ve been asked, “What DO those numbers mean?”

These strangers saw me hunkering down, looking at the UNIT PRICE sticker on the grocery store shelves. They had absolutely no idea what those little stickers meant.

I had no idea that so many people did not know about unit pricing. Unit Pricing began as a great consumer protection tool in the 1970s. It allows consumers to accurately compare and find the best pricing on any grocery store item. It’s so helpful.

So here goes a quick tutorial!

Unit Pricing is Your Ally!

Unit Pricing is a way to compare the actual costs between brands and sizes of grocery items.

Prices on grocery store shelves include two prices.

The bigger, bolder number is the item’s price, the amount you pay at the cash register.

The number in smaller print, often on the left side, is the unit price.

The unit price is the amount you’ll pay for each “unit” – of the item, measured in pounds, ounces, quarts, or gallons.

The unit price helps you make the best decision between brands and sizes.

Different items are measured in other units. For example, crackers are measured by the ounce, fresh meat and poultry are measured by the pound, and milk and most beverages are measured by the pint, quart, or gallon.

And the Winner is…

So, which is the better deal? For paper towels, the unit pricing is for 100 count/sheets. Viva Towels are $2.38 per 100 count. Sparkle Towels are $1.42 per 100 count. Shop Rite’s Paper Bird brand is $1.06.

Assuming the quality is the same, you’ll save a lot by purchasing the basic Paper Bird towels at $1.06 per 100 count.

Sometimes, unit pricing gets tricky! See this Paper Bird six pack with the bright red label? Looks like a great sale, right?! BUT…you must buy two packs to get the $1.26 per 100 count pricing. Otherwise, it’s $1.60 per 100 count for one package. Careful reading is required here!

So, the basic Paper Bird brand at $1.06 per 100 count is still the best price of these four options.

Large Versus Smaller Sizes

Many people believe that bulk/larger sizes are always the best buy. That’s not always the case. Sometimes, the smaller package has a lower price per unit than the larger one. Don’t assume that bigger is better. Compare the unit prices.

Don’t Lose Your Savings at the Checkout!

When you get to the register, make sure your items are tallied correctly. Self-checkout counters make this process easier, but you’ll need to remember what the shelf price says! Sometimes, I take a quick photo of the unit price to be sure. I can’t rely on my memory for this stuff!

Ok, I hope this makes unit pricing clear. Drop me a note if this was helpful to you!

Viva Paper Towels: $2.38 PER 100 Count
Shop Rite Paper Towels: $1.06 PER 100 Count
Sparkle Paper Towels: $1.42 PER 100 Count
ShopRite Paper Bird Ultra Paper Towels: $1.26 PER 100 Count, but you must buy 2 packs for that price!