Commissary savings remain at mandated levels
FORT LEE, Va. – Commissary savings remain at more than 23 percent, according to price comparisons of fiscal 2016 and 2017 sales.
“When you do the math, the value of the commissary benefit continues to add up for our patrons when compared to commercial retailers outside the gate,” said retired Rear Adm. Robert J. Bianchi, the interim director and CEO of the Defense Commissary Agency.
Congress requires that DeCA maintain savings at levels that are reasonably consistent with the fiscal 2016 baseline savings level, even as commissaries look to improve the patron shopping experience by integrating commercial business practices such as variable pricing and private label brands. The current savings methodology helps DeCA and Congress better monitor and protect patron savings, Bianchi said.
“Since 2016, we’ve used this calculation to take a deeper dive into what those numbers represent,” Bianchi said. “Now we have a clearer picture of the benefit’s value, reflecting savings as they apply to the products our patrons buy most and the regional cost of living where they shop.”
From the latest commissary market basket comparisons, DeCA’s annual global savings for fiscal 2017 is 23.32 percent, down slightly from the 23.65 percent reported for 2016. The overall percentage is a sales-weighted average of U.S. and overseas savings.
The savings decline was attributed to a combination of lower savings in certain U.S. regions and a drop in overseas savings linked to a lower average cost of living Allowance (COLA) in fiscal 2017; COLA fluctuations have a direct impact on DeCA’s level of overseas savings.
Historically, DeCA measured savings globally, by comparing national prices at commissaries against average market prices for the whole country. However, the cost of living varies by region. To account for these geographic differences, Congress now requires DeCA to report on savings regionally, comparing prices with two-to-three commercial grocers, including super centers, in the local area of each commissary in the United States.
Commissaries also expanded the range of items in its savings comparisons. In addition to measuring 38,000 items at a national level, DeCA is comparing local prices on about 1,000 products, which are representative of a shopper’s typical market basket.
“Sustaining the overall level of patron savings for our valued customers is a top priority and monitored very closely by the DeCA team,” said Chris Burns, the agency’s executive director for Business Transformation. “I am very pleased that DeCA continues to offer significant savings on items that our patrons purchase – savings that can help them stretch their budget.
“Although market fluctuations will cause prices of grocery products to increase and decrease,” Burns added, “our patrons can rely on the fact that the value of their commissary benefit will not change.”
For information on savings by region, see the savings tables.
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, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. 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.