All CVS store brand items 40% off: Are store brands worth the savings?

I went to CVS drugstore this week looking for an over-the-counter medicine to help me deal with a lingering sinus headache. Right next to a name brand item was the CVS brand — more than $2 cheaper and promising the same results.

I admit. I was feeling too bad to take a chance on a generic store brand, so I opted for the more expensive item. Given this latest CVS promotion, I’d re-think that decision. Today through Sept. 27, all CVS store brand items are 40 percent off. Doing my math, that sinus medicine would have cost me less than $3. Perhaps I’d feel the same way I do now, which is to say only slightly better.

Store brands can sometimes be as much as 50 percent less expensive than popular name brands. However, consumers aren’t always confident they’ll get the same quality. How likely are you to try a store brand? What items have you found to be not worth the savings? Which were the equivalent, or better, than the name brands?

Indeed, sales of store brands surged more than 10 percent in 2008 to a record $83.3 billion, according to industry data from the Private Label Manufacturers Association compiled by The Nielsen Company.

The savings can be sizable. Additional PLMA research showed store brand over name brand shoppers can save up to 30 percent. Items with the biggest gap, between 50-60 percent: aspirin, sinus spray, soda, saltine crackers and body lotion. Cereal and ice cream savings were around 30 percent, while store brand dog food was about 25 percent cheaper.

Consumers want to save money without sacrificing quality. They are trying store brand products, keeping the costlier items on the shelves.

Hot Publix store brand items:
Milk, white bread, water, eggs, deli rotisserie chicken, deli fried chicken and southern potato salad.

Hot metro Atlanta Kroger store brand items:
Milk, eggs, water, paper towel, tuna in water, white bread, hot dog buns and butter.

Which store brands are your favorites? Which wouldn’t you recommend? Have you switched to store brands for any of your purchases lately? Most important, was it worth it?

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8 comments Add your comment


September 24th, 2009
3:31 pm

I really think Target brand products (now called Up & Up brand) are great. I’ve purchased Target brand products over the past six years or so and have been pleased except for their baby laundry detergent which made my baby’s skin irritated. I’m a fan of Target in general for the money I save on sinus/headache/fever medicine, diapers (when I needed them) and even formula. Can’t beat saving 20-30% consistently with generic products.


September 24th, 2009
3:40 pm

I buy mostly store brands. Kroger is where I shop most of the time so I buy almost all of their brands. The only one I’ve had issue with is the Diet Cola, it tastes like Pepsi. Asprin, milk, eggs, bread, jelly, frozen veggies, etc etc.

Makes coupons harder to use but it so much cheaper in general and I don’t have to keep up with the coupons.


September 25th, 2009
9:06 am

As far as drugs go, the generic aka store brands are required by law to be exactly the same strength and make-up as the name brand product. So if you see a generic version of Claritin, Zyrtec, Prilosec, etc., don’t be afraid that it’s potency will be less than the name brand.


September 26th, 2009
7:48 am

Store brands are worth the money, especially when it comes to baby formula. CVS store brand infant formula meets all the same nutrient specifications that Enfamil and Similac do. All formulas have to be nutritionally equivalent – it’s the law. There’s a great new resource online at Check it out and see how much you can save without compromising on nutrition.


September 26th, 2009
8:01 am

Enter your comments here Employee at CVS told me yesterday that 40% off CVS Brands can only be purchased “online”.


September 26th, 2009
11:13 am

Dr. Barbara Levine

September 30th, 2009
8:36 am

Hello Rana and to everyone participating in this exchange who may be interested in infant formula.

For new parents in this economy, the store brand formula message is more important now than ever because of changes in the WIC program. As of October 1, 2009, a new WIC initiative aimed at increasing breastfeeding rates among families reallocates funding for all currently provided foods, including infant formula, juices, and fresh fruits and vegetables. This program may also mean a reduction of up to 20 percent in infant-formula subsidies. I think it’s great that WIC is encouraging breastfeeding and still providing some infant formula subsidies. If you participate in WIC and your vouchers run out, remember you can switch to a store brand formula because they are nutritionally equivalent to name brands.

Store brand formulas are sold at leading retailers such as Walmart, CVS, Babies “R” Us, Kroger, Sam’s Club, and Walgreens. FDA ensures that all infant formulas sold in the United States meet minimum and maximum nutrient specifications; this means store brands are nutritionally equivalent to name brands and can save you up to 50 percent on formula.


Dr. Barbara Levine
Associate Professor of Clinical Nutrition
Weill Cornell Medical College


October 1st, 2009
11:23 am

For us, store brands are not only worth it, they are a lifesaver! We have twins and I am not able to breastfeed them. Look at the prices of national brand formulas and do the math! It was killing us. Store brands are definitely the way to go, and as Annie says above, and my pediatrician says…they contain the same nutrients as the others! And as long as we are talking savings, check out the deal Parent’s Choice put out the other day. Two cans for $10.