More retailers offering free antibiotics — but watch your total costs

We reported previously on Meijer and Publix offering free antibiotics to their pharmacy customers. Now Giant Food and its sister chain, Stop & Shop, are following suit.

This is a welcome development, but keep in mind that these businesses are not charities — they are offering the antibiotics as loss-leaders in the hope that their pharmacy patrons will do their grocery and/or other shopping at their stores also.

The Giant Food/Stop & Shop program also has a time limit — it runs till March 21, after which the retailer says it will begin charging for antibiotics again.

Although Giant is positioning its move as a way to temporarily help consumers during tough economic times, clearly there’s more to it than this.  Giant wants to see if offering free antibiotics leads to enough of an increase in overall sales to justify the cost.  If it does, my guess is the program will become permanent.  If it doesn’t, then they’ll go back to business as usual on March 22.

My advice to you (if you’re in an area serviced by Meijer, Publix or Giant) is this: if you’re not currently doing your shopping at these stores already, don’t switch over simply because of the free antibiotics. Only go there for the free stuff, and continue with your current routine. If you do choose to switch to Meijer, Publix or Giant for the convenience of one-stop shopping, be sure to look at your total grocery bill and compare it to what you were paying at the supermarket you used before.

Remember, the most common antibiotics are available as generics and not that expensive, so if you’re paying more for your groceries to go to Giant, it’s probably not worth it.

As a side note, I’m a little embarrassed by the Washington Post’s reporting on the Giant program.  They hail the program as the first case of a retailer giving away free antibiotics, when Meijer and Publix have been doing it for a while now.  A quick Google search would have cleared that up.

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Comments (3)

Whatever the real reason, this program could be a big help for those who are struggling this winter. As you said, just pay attention to what you are spending in the rest of the store so you don’t end up overdoing it.

There are many that it could help but I can still see a ton of chains in my area doing nothing like this. And its odd since they are just as big as Publix & Gaint.

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