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News Release

Commissary customers pocket more savings, value

FORT LEE, Va, December 13, 2012 –Commissary customers found their benefit well "worth the trip" in fiscal 2012 with historic numbers in savings, shopping transactions and sales.

"Our mission is to provide a money-saving benefit that supplements the quality of life of our military," said Defense Commissary Agency director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu. "And, the growing number of transactions shows our customers continue to value their savings."

DeCA's report card for fiscal 2012 includes the following:

  • At 31.2 percent savings when compared to commercial stores, military commissaries saved their customers more than $2.76 billion.
  • Authorized customers made 97,822,042 shopping trips, an increase of more than 1.6 million from fiscal 2011. This was the highest number of patron transactions since 103.7 million in fiscal 1996.
  • DeCA's sales of $6.09 billion were the highest ever since the agency's formation in 1991, and only the second time the agency reached the $6 billion plateau since achieving $6.02 billion in fiscal 1992. Then, the agency had 411 stores versus the 247 it has now, in keeping with the closure of U.S. military installations at home and overseas.
  • Sales fuel surcharge funds. DeCA's fiscal 2012 sales helped generate about $312.5 million in surcharge funds. The commissary's 5 percent surcharge is applied to the total value of customer purchases. The surcharge is used to fund new stores, new equipment and renovate existing facilities.
  • Commissaries redeemed nearly 113.3 million coupons in fiscal 2012 for a customer savings of about $104.2 million. DeCA ranked sixth among U.S. retailers in coupon redemptions in fiscal 2011.
  • Customer satisfaction scores continue to rise. Patrons gave their benefit high marks on the 2012 Commissary Customer Satisfaction Survey. The commissary registered a 4.61 on a five-point scale, translating to an "A" grade.
  • Commissaries eclipsed the retail average for customer service. The agency hit 81 on the fiscal 2012 American Customer Satisfaction Index – the industry average is 76. The ACSI is an independent evaluation of customer satisfaction, developed by the National Quality Research Center, which surveys civilian supermarket and commissary-eligible shoppers about the quality of goods and services in both DeCA stores and commercial supermarkets.

DeCA's fiscal performance is the result of a collaborative effort between the headquarters sales staff and the agency's industry partners, said DeCA Director of Sales Chris Burns.

"We have a dedicated team of buyers and category managers who work with our industry partners – vendors, suppliers and brokers – to provide the products that support our stores," he said. "Our store personnel are the true heart of what we do because every day they execute the promotion and merchandising plans to serve our customers."

"Ultimately, it's all about delivering our patrons their commissary benefit with brand-name items available at cost and at an average annual savings of more than 30 percent when compared to commercial grocery stores," he continued.

Burns said DeCA's fiscal 2012 performance indicates that the value of the commissary benefit is stronger than ever, especially in its service to the military and its connection to military readiness. The evidence, he added, is in the following:

  • Military-related employment. Nearly 64 percent of the DeCA workforce has a direct connection to the military as military spouses, children of service members, veterans, retirees and Guard and Reserve members.
  • Guard-Reserve on-site sales. In fiscal 2012, these events transported the benefit to nearly 47,000 customers who don’t live near commissaries, saving them about $3.2 million.
  • Worldwide case lot sales. For the first time, DeCA surpassed the $19-million threshold for its May worldwide case lot events, a 1.14 percent increase from May 2011. These sales, conducted in May and September, offer customers savings of 50 percent or more on hundreds of items sold in the economical "club pack" format found in commercial club warehouse stores.
  • Military Scholarships for Children. Since 2000, nearly 6,800 students of military families have received about $10 million in grants for their college education. The new application period began Dec. 3.
  • Fiscal responsibility. For every dollar of taxpayer funds invested in the commissary benefit, authorized shoppers received $2.10 in savings. DeCA's excellent performance as a responsible government steward of taxpayer funds is apparent with the agency having received a clean audit opinion on its financial statements for the past 11 years.

"We see fiscal 2012 as a stepping stone in our efforts to better understand our customers and provide them a 21st century benefit that they've earned through their exemplary service and sacrifice," Jeu said. "It's no fluke that most of our employees have a military connection. We are the community we serve, so we're personally invested in delivering the best benefit possible."

NOTE: To see photos related to this news release, go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/commissary/8250931692

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit and make no profit on the sale of merchandise. Authorized patrons save thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to commercial prices when shopping regularly at a commissary. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America's military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773

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