Jan 17, 201310:29 AMBlog

Closing military groceries could hurt, help

Jan 17, 2013 - 10:29 AM

A federal budget-cutting proposal to close military commissaries might further complicate the financial lives of active-duty military members as they prepare for the impact of defense downsizing on family finances. It might also bring new sales revenues to your neighborhood grocery store chain.

Many military families are concerned that their grocery bills will eat up a larger portion of their monthly household budget should Congress enact a plan to close taxpayer-subsidized grocery stores on base and instead give service members a food allowance, according to results of the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® survey.

Roughly two out of five (39 percent) say that eliminating this lower-cost source of groceries would drive up their food costs, and 28 percent expect they would need to allocate a larger portion of their monthly budget to cover the added expense.

Despite these concerns, many service members are taking an optimistic view of the cost-cutting proposal, with 44 percent of respondents saying that replacing the taxpayer-supported stores with a monthly food allowance would give military families the added convenience of shopping anywhere and give the nation another way to cut government spending.

Eliminating commissaries would save the federal government about $1.3 billion a year, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which has long recommended this cost-saving move.

The Index reveals that 72 percent of middle-class military families (senior NCOs and commissioned officers in pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) believe grocery prices are better in commissaries than off-installation stores. 

More complete detail on this research is available here.

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