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Military and Private Sector Commodity Outlets: A Retail Price Comparison

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Final technical rept. Jun-Dec 1983

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Substantial price savings exist for commissary users in each of the five locations sampled, ranging from 23 at Ft. Polk to 31 at Ft. Belvoir. In other words, a 100 market basket at the Ft. Polk Commissary would cost 129 at the Leesville, Louisiana Piggly Wiggly the same basket at Ft. Belvoir would cost 144 at the Springfield, Virginia Safeway. A family of four with a 70 weekly food budget would save, on average, about 1285 per year using the commissary system. These savings exist whether non-food items or only food items are included in the market basket and are not particularly sensitive to the composition of the market basket. In contrast, the PXretail outlet price comparisons are less conclusive. The savings at PXs are due largely to the absence of sales taxes, but the price indexes are sensitive to the composition of the market basket and the retail stores used as the comparative one-stop outlet. This research has shown the importance of commissaries in increasing the real earnings of Army personnel. Recognizing that military pay is low, it is one factor which attempts to raise the earnings of military personnel closer to their civilian counterparts. As a nonpecuniary benefit, it must be taken into account when making a comparison of military and civilian earnings.

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  • Economics and Cost Analysis

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