Safeway is a grocery store with more than 900 stores spread across the Mid-Atlantic and Western United States.
They’ve also expanded into Canada, the UK, and other European and African countries.
Along with providing groceries, Safeway sells general merchandise and even has pharmacies within their stores.
When shopping at Safeway, you may notice some expensive prices.
Here are 10 reasons Safeway is so expensive.
Why Is Safeway So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. High-Quality Ingredients
The grocery market is competitive.
There are tons of different grocery stores in the industry.
From local stores to corporate chains, each store needs to have something niche about it that draws people to its doors.
For Safeway, it’s a focus on high-quality ingredients.
Whereas other stores try to go the cheap route by providing generic brands, Safeway does something else.
They know that there are customers out there who want quality ingredients no matter the price.
They may be private chefs or just normal homeowners or apartment renters who want to eat quality food.
To meet their needs, Safeway focuses on partnering with farms that provide high-quality ingredients.
These are the farmers who put an extra expense into their soil and farming processes to yield excellent crops.
The ingredients are either large, offer incredible flavor, or look the best.
There’s some sort of noticeable difference between them and the cheaper ingredients you find at other stores.
Since farmers put a lot of expense into providing high-quality ingredients, they also sell them at higher prices.
That’s where Safeway’s expensiveness comes into play.
Since they buy these products at higher prices, they take on a greater cost than cheaper grocery stores.
To cover the cost of their high-quality produce and other products, Safeway has to sell them at a higher price.
Buyers are able to find the quality that they’re looking for at Safeway, but they need to pay higher prices for it.
This isn’t strictly exclusive to Safeway either.
Any time there’s a product that is high in quality, it’s always going to have a higher price.
Safeway is expensive because it imports high-quality ingredients and products.
2. Organic Foods
Besides selling high-quality produce and products, Safeway also focuses on selling organic foods.
This also sets it apart from other grocery stores.
Some local stores or chain stores may have a small organic section.
The majority of their produce isn’t organic.
Safeway does something different.
They offer a larger selection of organic produce.
Their goal is to target consumers who have a concern about lingering pesticides and other chemicals in their produce.
Those consumers are also more willing to buy organic food even if it’s at a higher price.
Organic food is more expensive than standard food because it requires more care.
Farmers are unable to use chemicals on organic foods.
For other foods, farmers use pesticides to keep insects from eating and destroying them.
Some use chemicals to help the plants grow or to nourish the soil.
Unless you spend some time washing your fruits and vegetables off, there’s always a chance that you’re also eating those chemicals.
Organic farms, on the other hand, stay away from using chemicals.
Instead, they have to use other methods to protect their plants from destruction via insects.
That might mean they need to grow them in a controlled greenhouse.
It might mean implementing other expensive methods that keep bugs and animals from destroying their farms.
Since it’s more expensive to use these other methods, the farmer has to make up for the expense by selling their crops at a higher price.
Safeway buys it from them at a higher price, then they need to make up for their own expense.
It’s passed to the customer who pays an expensive price on an organic product.
Besides the higher cost of farming, organic products also tend to be higher in price because they’re seen as a luxury type of food rather than a necessary one.
When it comes to healthier foods, they’re always given a higher price.
That’s because sellers know that people don’t need to eat this particular food to survive.
They’re eating it because they want to be healthier than they are.
Since it’s healthy, stores can charge a bit more for it.
Safeway can market its organic products as a healthier substitute for standard fruits and vegetables.
They just also sell it at a higher price.
Safeway is expensive because it sells organic food which is more expensive to farm and carries with it a luxury price tag.
3. Premium Brands
Safeway carries a lot of premium brands that other stores don’t.
This is part of their push to carry high-quality ingredients and products.
When a brand proves that it sells a high-quality item, Safeway will invite them to sell at their store.
They may also apply to sell their product through Safeway.
To ensure that their product meets their standards, Safeway will do a little investigating before accepting or denying their request.
Those that do make it become part of Safeway’s premium brands.
While Safeway makes some money off of these products, they don’t make as much as they do with their own branded products.
As a result, they place them at a slightly higher price point.
While the brand owner also tells them their preferred price point, Safeway will mark up the price a bit more to ensure they earn a profit, too.
Customers find Safeway expensive because of these premium brands.
They’re high-quality and difficult to find elsewhere.
4. Private Labels
When it comes to alcohol, beauty products, or other similar products, Safeway also carries private labels.
These products are only found in Safeway stores.
They’re also marked high.
That’s because Safeway has to either produce the product themselves if it’s a Safeway private label or keep the brand owner from selling elsewhere.
They have to make it worthwhile for the brand owner to sell solely to their store.
That means a nice cut of the profits.
Since Safeway needs its share of the profits, too, the price has to be high enough to satisfy both parties.
Exclusive products are a great way to get people inside your store.
They may find that they enjoy that particular beer or wine, and since they can’t get it anywhere else, they have to buy it from Safeway.
The store invests a good amount of money in their private labels.
They want their customers to feel as though they’re part of something exclusive.
The idea is that the customer is one of only a few people who even know about the private label product.
This makes them feel important and encourages them to continue to buy the product to share in the secret.
To keep it seeming even more exclusive, the product also usually carries an expensive price tag.
This keeps some people from wanting to buy it.
While that might seem counterproductive, it only entices other customers more.
Safeway is expensive because it carries private labels, and those products run on the high side of prices.
Not all stores have a union, but Safeway does.
A union is a collection, or organization, of workers who have legal representation.
They have a better ability to fight back against unfair wages and unfair treatment at work.
It’s because of unions that modern-day safety measures exist.
Not all CEOs want unions, however.
It makes running a business more expensive.
Unionized workers tend to earn more than non-unionized workers.
That’s because they’re able to legally fight for better wages.
In most cases, the government sides with them rather than the CEO.
They’re also safer at work.
Since Safeway has a unionized workforce, they tend to pay them more than other workers at different grocery stores.
That alone means Safeway has a higher cost of operations.
They need high prices on their products to pay their employees.
Another reason unionized workers make Safeway expensive is a higher level of safety standards.
While all modern grocery stores should have safety protocols in place, Safeway tries a little harder.
That’s because its unionized workers ensure that they’re working in a safe environment.
If something seems unsafe, then they can organize and ask for legal help.
That isn’t something Safeway wants to deal with since it can be quite expensive for them.
To ensure their workers are safe, they add a few more pennies to the price of each of the products they sell.
That might mean newer equipment, safer equipment, or hiring certain employees or services who oversee the safety of the crew.
These additional expenses make running a Safeway more expensive.
As a result, they need to set higher prices.
A unionized workforce makes Safeway expensive because they’re able to push for fair wages and safety procedures.
6. No Price Matching
When you visit a local grocery store or a big chain store, you often have the ability to price match.
This means that if you find a product at the store which is at a high price and you know it’s a lower price at a different store, then the store will sell it at the lower price.
This is called price matching.
It’s a way for grocery stores to hold onto customers rather than lose them to a store that had a cheaper price on a particular product.
Safeway doesn’t do this.
If you find a high-priced item at their store and know that it’s available for less elsewhere, they won’t sell it to you at the lower price.
At Safeway, the price is the price.
That’s because they sell products that are often of higher quality.
Buying an expensive apple from Safeway isn’t necessarily the same as buying a cheap apple at a different store.
There’s a good chance that the quality of an apple from the different stores doesn’t match up to the quality of the apple at Safeway.
They’d be losing money if they price-matched.
Instead, Safeway will put discounts on their products from time to time.
This is when you can try and find the same product at a lower price.
Otherwise, you may need to go to the store to buy the cheaper product.
Safeway is expensive because they won’t sell their products at lower prices even if you know the same product is cheaper elsewhere.
7. Not Every Store Has Safeway “Just for U” Program
One of the best ways to save money at Safeway is to use their Safeway Just for U Program.
It’s a rewards program that gives you discounts and coupons on some of its products.
The problem is that not every store offers Safeway Just for U programs.
None of the stores in Canada, for example, offers the rewards program.
That can make shopping at Safeway expensive since they have to pay full price for everything.
While the store also offers its own sales and discounts for regular customers, it’s those who have the store’s reward program who are saving the most money.
Shopping at Safeway is expensive if you don’t have a Safeway “Just for U” rewards card.
8. They Have A Pharmacy
To separate themselves from other stores, Safeway built a pharmacy into their store.
At almost every Safeway store, you can have access to your prescriptions.
They have pharmacists which can fill your prescriptions and take care of your old bottles and expired medication.
They also administer flu shots and other basic shots and vaccines.
Having a pharmacy, however, makes Safeway more expensive.
For one, it requires the store to partner with certain medical suppliers and physicians.
They need to obtain certain drugs which can be pricey at times.
Then they need to pay pharmacists who have high wages.
They went to college to obtain their degree in pharmaceutical sciences.
Besides being able to fill prescriptions, they’re also capable of administering them.
Since they received some medical education, they tend to be expensive employees.
The pharmacy, itself, needs to have high-quality coolers, lockable containers, and other equipment for the pharmacists to fill medications.
All these carry an expensive price tag.
While having a pharmacy brings in more traffic to their stores, it’s also still expensive to operate.
As a result, Safeway has high prices.
It needs to pay for the pharmacists, their services, and the other costs associated with running a pharmacy.
Safeway is expensive because it needs to cover pharmacy costs.
9. Starbucks And Other Stores
Some Safeway stores also have areas devoted to Starbucks and other stores.
These shops have to pay a certain rental fee to Safeway, but the grocery store carries some of the expense of running the Starbucks, too.
Having Starbucks, in particular, in their store is a great advertisement.
People always need their morning and afternoon coffee.
If Safeway happens to be closer to them than other coffee shops, then those people are more likely to stop in and get their coffee at the Starbucks inside the store.
While they’re there, it’s a good chance that they’ll also buy a fresh lunch from the deli or other products.
Since having Starbucks forces some customers through their doors, it increases sales.
Operating a Starbucks or partnering with them comes with its costs.
It also means sacrificing some floor space for the store.
That could mean they’re losing out on profit if some customers only visit to buy their coffee and then leave.
Since many customers consider Starbucks a type of luxury company, the fact that it’s inside of Safeway also gives the store that association.
With the correlation comes higher prices.
They can raise their prices to match some of the prices at Starbucks.
The customers may not think twice about it.
Safeway is expensive because they host Starbucks and other businesses inside of their own store.
10. Fresh Food
The final reason Safeway is so expensive is that it sells fresh foods.
It’s common for larger store chains to have a deli and bakery, but Safeway takes it to a different level.
They even have a sandwich-making area.
Not only does Safeway sell the ingredient you need to make a sandwich yourself, but you can also buy a finished sandwich from them.
Their food is also made fresh.
If you ever find yourself hungry while shopping, then Safeway can help feed you.
It also draws in people who are passing by for lunch or stopping to get coffee at Starbucks.
Besides offering convenient and fresh food, Safeway’s fresh food is also expensive.
That’s because they use high-quality ingredients to make their baked goods, deli meats, or sandwiches.
Using those ingredients is expensive.
It also means they need to hire employees with enough skills to cook.
For bakers, they may be even more expensive than other types of employees.
Along with the workforce, the cost of selling edible food is also high.
They need sanitary products and equipment to keep the area clean.
They also need storage, heating elements, and refrigeration units to cook and preserve the food and ingredients.
These aspects cost money.
To cover their costs, the food you buy from Safeway is expensive.
How To Save Money At Safeway
While Safeway is one of the more expensive grocery stores that you can shop at, there are a few things you can do to make it cheaper.
One of the first things to do is to apply for their rewards program.
If your local store offers it, then take advantage of the program.
You’ll be able to have access to exclusive discounts and coupons that other customers won’t.
It can save you some money in the long run.
Another way to save money is to keep an eye on regular store sales.
All stores tend to have sales to get rid of inventory.
Knowing when the store receives its new inventory from a truck can help you time your shopping.
You’ll be able to find plenty of discounts on products you need.
Safeway emphasizes providing high-quality, organic, and exclusive products.
All those things also make their costs of operations more expensive.
To make a profit, Safeway has to sell at high prices.
Follow the tips above to make shopping at Safeway affordable.