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Shopsmart Finds Target, Walmart Offer Lower Prices, Bigger Savings on Over-The-Counter Drugs than CVS, Walgreens

Shopsmart Finds Target, Walmart Offer Lower Prices, Bigger Savings on Over-The-Counter Drugs than CVS, Walgreens

Shoppers can save hundreds of dollars a year by changing how and where they shop

ShopSmart Cover - May 2013Drug stores may be a convenient choice for over-the-counter medications, but there’s a price to pay for convenience. The May 2013 issue of ShopSmart, from Consumer Reports, features findings from the magazine’s price scan of 185 drugs at hundreds of stores nationwide that revealed potential savings of hundreds of dollars a year for shoppers willing to change their over-the-counter medication shopping habits.

ShopSmart’s secret shoppers compared prices of common name- and store-brand nonprescription medications available at CVS, Walgreens, Target, Walmart and supermarkets and found that Target and Walmart beat the drugstore chains every time. Walmart had the lowest prices on 26 items, the most of any of the retailers. Target offered the biggest savings on a single item – their store-brand Ibuprofen (24 count) was 73 percent cheaper than the store-brand offering at Walgreens.

When shopping for nonprescription medications, choose the right size container. The largest packages are not always the smartest buys.  ShopSmart found the savings on some medium-sized bottles are comparable to their giant counterparts, and the drugs are less likely to expire before they can be used.

“If you’re still buying drugs at drugstores you’re missing out on a major way to save,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “Our price scans on many different products, including food, and beauty items, and now medications, show that by simply shopping at Walmart and Target you can cut your costs by hundreds of dollars a year.”

Maximize Savings with Drugstore Loyalty Programs

ShopSmart found that drugstore chains almost always had the highest regular price on nonprescription drugs, but joining a loyalty program at one of the big chains – CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens – can help shoppers uncover deals. The trick is to sign up and read up. Here is a look at some of the perks of loyalty card memberships that anyone can join:

  1. CVS ExtraCare. Earn two percent back on almost all nonprescription purchases in stores and online; members receive extra rewards for buying select items each week. Additional rewards can be earned by enrolling in special beauty, diabetes and pharmacy programs. Rewards include instant savings on featured items and ExtraBucks cash-bask coupons for future purchases. ExtraBucks coupons generally expire after 45 days.

  2. Rite Aid Wellness+.  Shoppers earn one point for every dollar spent on eligible nonprescription items in stores and 25 extra points for prescriptions. Program offers instant savings on featured items and +Up Rewards to redeem on future purchases. Earn 500 points and get rewards such as fitness memberships, magazine subscriptions and health screening. +Up Rewards are good for 14 days. Wellness+ for Diabetes (free, with separate enrollment) offers exclusive member benefits.

  3. Walgreens Balance Rewards. Members earn points for buying certain items in stores and online (for example, 250 points for toothpaste and 3,000 for laundry detergent); 500 points for prescriptions and immunizations. Shoppers receive instant savings on featured items. Earn 5,000 points to get $5 to spend on a future purchase; hit other point levels and get up to $50. Earn ten points for every mile in the Walk with Walgreens fitness program; get bonus points by linking an AARP membership to a Balance Rewards account. Points expire after three years or sooner if an account has been inactive for six months.

About Consumer Reports:
Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

About ShopSmart magazine:
Launched in Fall 2006 by Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon the publication’s celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. ShopSmart features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and “best of the best” lists. It’s ideal for busy shoppers who place a premium on time. ShopSmart has a newsstand price of $4.99 and is available nationwide at major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, Borders, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. ShopSmart is available by subscription at www.ShopSmartmag.org.

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