Save Big: Limited-Assortment Grocery Stores Offer Fewer Choices, Bigger Savings

Stores offer less variety, but you can save more on your shopping bill.

ByABC News
January 31, 2011, 9:50 PM

Feb. 1, 2011 — -- The typical supermarket contains 50,000 different products. Would you give up some of that selection for lower prices?

Millions of Americans are doing just that, at "limited assortment grocery stores."

The best-known are Save-A-Lot, Aldi and Grocery Outlet.

You probably won't find olive tapenade, brie cheese or basmati rice at one of these smaller stores, but you can find big savings.

Here's an overview of the concept. Start with a space about half the size of a typical suburban supermarket. Stock it with 95 percent store brands. And only carry about 80 percent of the selection traditional stores do.

"Good Morning America" traveled to the Save-A-Lot in Hyattsville, Md., to check it out.

There wasn't as much produce on display, but it was good-looking and affordable. There were bananas for just 45 cents per pound, compared to 80 cents at a traditional chain nearby.

Save-A-Lot only carries name-brand products when it can score a deep discount on them and pass the savings along to its customers as a special deal.

Mostly you see shelves lined with unfamiliar store brands like Kurtz, Coburn and Portman's.

"Everything is great, it's fresh and I've never had a problem. Never had to bring anything back. This is the place to shop," one female shopper said.

Other signs of a unique philosophy: a smaller meat department with fewer cuts. And products displayed on the palettes they came in.

This store offered yellow mustard and ketchup -- but in one type, one size. One type, one size, so they're not using a lot of shelf space to stock dozens of brands.