This post is meant to hopefully answer any and all questions you may have regarding shopping at the military Commissary. First let’s address what is the Commissary? Essentially the Commissary is the military grocery store. You will find Commissaries on many military bases. The Commissary has greatly reduced prices for groceries and is a great way for military families to save money. Here is what I found on the Deca page:
Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5–percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones
I feel like this is a good place to add that you will not find generic brand or store brands at the Commissary only name brand items. So although on the whole I do think you can save some money shopping at the Commissary you sometimes can find better prices on items at an outside grocery store by buying store brands.
Who can shop at the Commissary?
According to the Deca FAQ page it looks as though anyone that has a Department of Defense ID that authorizes you access to the Commissary privileges can shop at the Commissary. If you have questions on whether or not you should be able to shop at the Commissary you should contact the Pass and ID office of your nearest military installation and they will be able to answer this question for you.
How long do sale cycles run?
According to the Deca page they change prices twice a month. The prices are changed on the 1st and the 16th of each month. I know I had some comments that felt like prices were being jacked up right before pay day but I think what you need to keep in mind is that some items will go on sale or special promotions on the day prices are changed while others are coming off sale. So I assure you that is not the case with the Commissary unfortunately you may just have hit the day the item you are looking for is coming off of promotion.
This from the Deca page: Commissaries are required by law to sell products at cost plus surcharge, so we never make a profit on the products we sell.
You do not pay any sales tax at the Commissary but you do get charged a 5% surcharge to cover the overheard cost of running the Commissary.
Bagger/Carry Out service
Unlike any other grocery type store you will go to the baggers at the Commissary are not paid any kind of an hourly wage. The only money they make are from the tips they get from the shoppers. So I encourage you to keep a couple extra dollars ready (or however much you feel is fair) to tip your bagger after they have loaded your groceries into your car for you. Just as a heads up you can opt to not have a bagger or use the self help register.
Yes the Commissary does accept coupons. Yippee! But there are some policies you should know ahead of time.
1. “in house” coupons such as a Target store coupon or any coupon that is specifically aimed at that one store
2. double or triple coupons the Commissary will only accept coupons at face value
3. you cannot stack coupons at the Commissary. In other words you cannot take a military coupon and stack it with a manufacturer’s coupon
4. Commissary will not accept coupons that are for a FREE item
5. expired coupons (unless it is an overseas military base then up to six months past expiration date)
Heads up Procter and Gamble (P & G) does not authorize Internet coupons for any of their products.
1. Coupons you have clipped or printed from computer at face value (printed coupons must include expiration date and bar code)
2. Overseas military bases ONLY can use coupons up to six months past expiration date
3. Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupons
4. One coupon per item
5. Accept your Register Rewards printed from Walgreens and use a manufacturer’s coupon (this was recently on their Facebook page)
You will not see advertising with the Commissary as they are prohibited to pay to advertise their pricing by the use of flyers or such.
I hope this helps to cover any questions you may have had regarding shopping at the Commissary. If any other questions arise that I may not have covered I will add that info to this post.