The prices at the commissary change a lot, and there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason. Someone told me they raise the prices near payday when a lot of people are shopping, and then lower them again a few days later. Is that true?
What you heard is partially true, and partially not true. Here's the deal:
The commissary's pricing plan doesn't work like other grocery stores. Instead, the commissary is required by law to sell items at certain percent savings over off-base prices.
Because of that, the commissary also doesn't run weekly sales or specials known in the industry as "loss leaders" the same way other stores do.
Related: Commissary 101: How to Shop at the Commissary
So why do prices always seem to change around paydays?
The answer is simple: That is exactly when they change.
"Commissary prices are changed on the 1st and 16th of each month and are usually in effect for 30 to 45 days," commissary officials say. "These price changes are generally about a 50-50 mix, with some prices being lowered as items go on a special promotion or sale, and some raised as items come off a special promotion or sale. The number of price changes will vary, according to the size of the store, but prices throughout the store will always -- and only -- reflect the cost of the items to DeCA. Commissaries are required by law to sell products at cost plus surcharge, so we never make a profit on the products we sell."
So, yes, they are raising them around payday. But are they raising them to correspond with payday and then lowering them again right after? No.
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