Photo: SoraNews24

Japanese convenience store or Japanese supermarket: Which one is cheaper?

By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

Compared to overseas convenience stores, where you know you’ll wind up paying more for products purely for the convenience, Japanese convenience stores, or konbini as they’re locally known, seem reasonably priced by comparison.

In fact, our reporter Mariko Ohanabatake doesn’t see anything wrong with shopping for drinks and snacks at her local konbini whenever she feels like it. However, this year, one of Mariko’s New Year’s resolutions is to save more money, so when she came across a magazine article that spoke about convenience store shopping being bad for your back-pocket, she decided to see if there was any truth to the claim.

So Mariko set out to purchase the exact same products at a convenience store and a supermarket to see what the price difference would be. Secretly, she was hoping any difference would be negligible, as she wasn’t ready to give up the bright lights of her local convenience store just yet.


The eight items she decided to purchase at both places were popular snacks and drinks that are widely available, namely:

・ Calbee Potato Chips — Light Salt Flavor

・ Glico Pocky — Chocolate Flavour

・ Morinaga Pino Ice Creams

・ Häagen-Dazs Mini Cup — Vanilla

・ Nissin Foods Cup Noodle — Seafood Flavor

・ Kirin Chu-hi — Hyoketsu Lemon (350 milliliters)

・ Coca-Cola (500 milliliters)

・ Oi Ocha Green Tea (500 milliliters)


She decided to shop at her local konbini first, which was a 7-Eleven, one of Japan’s top three convenience store chains. Placing the eight items in her basket, she headed over to the cashier, and actually took notice of the prices for the very first time.

“Pip!” Went the scanner, and Mariko discovered that Pino ice creams cost 140 yen.

“Pip!” Went the scanner again, and her Cup Noodle showed up as 184 yen.

“Pip!” So now Häagen-Dazs is 295 yen?

Looking at the prices, Mariko couldn’t help but feel they were slightly more expensive than she’d expected. And when it came time to pay, she found that the eight items she’d purchased — nine if you count the three-yen charge for the plastic bag — came to…

▼ 1,428 yen 


That was slightly higher than Mariko had imagined, but she decided to put her judgement on hold until after she’d done her supermarket shop. For that, she decided to go to Seiyu, a good mid-range supermarket chain.


As soon as she walked in, Mariko had to stop herself from purchasing all the other items in the store that caught her eye. There were certainly many more temptations here at the supermarket, but she remained focused on the task at hand, purchasing only what she came for.

▼ Potato chips are 78 yen!? That was almost half the price they were at the konbini, where they cost her 147 yen.


Surprisingly, the supermarket didn’t have any 500-milliliter bottles of coke at the store, so Mariko had to purchase a 700-milliliter one, but at 100 yen, it was already cheaper than the smaller bottle at the supermarket, which cost 140 yen.


Heading to the register, she watched the prices appear with each “pip” of the scanner again, and this time the eight items, plus the plastic bag, which brought the items up to nine, cost…

 1,021 yen


That meant the difference in price between supermarket and convenience store was 407 yen, which was a much bigger saving than she’d expected.


With a saving like this, she could afford to buy another tub of that pricey Häagen-Dazs ice cream, plus some more items, at the supermarket. Mariko now began to wonder how much money she’d wasted at the convenience store over the years, but before descending into a black pit of despair over it all, she remembered one revelation about her supermarket experience that surprised her.

▼ Supermarkets might be cheap, but they’re filled with many temptations.


Special discounts, seasonal fruits, new products, limited-edition flavours — the supermarket has it all, which means if you go there to buy a few snacks, you may very well walk out with a full basket of things you weren’t expecting to buy, which means you might end up paying more in the long-run.

Still, if you want to save money, and you have the willpower to avoid temptations, the supermarket will be kinder to your bank balance at the end of the day. For Mariko, she says she’ll try and cut down on her convenience store trips in future, but when she has a hankering for some fried chicken or a quick pizza bun, she won’t resist the urge to step into the welcoming lights of her beloved convenience store.

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

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-- Have coffee with adorable piggies at Tokyo’s brand-new micro pig cafe in trendy Harajuku

-- BonAppetour startup lets you cook and dine with Tokyo locals in their homes

© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Needless to say. I pay around 120 - 160yen for a 2L coke bottle at any supermarket whereas I get only a 600ml bottle for the same price at convenience stores. And how about the 2.000yen phone chargers they sell at these stores you can get exactly the same thing for 300 yen in Daiso?

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Japanese convenience store or Japanese supermarket: Which one is cheaper?

No one over the age of 5 has ever asked this question.

In fact, in a lot of cases even drug store items are cheaper.

It took an “investigation” and an article to figure this out?

All she needed to do was check out a 2L bottle of water.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

I read the tittle and my first reaction was are we being punked!

Then I thought, is there anyone that actually would be wondering such a thing?

Well apparently we aren't being punked and there is actually someone that was possibly born yesterday that didn't know what my children knew even before entering elementary school.

If I gave them a few coins to get a drink and snack they would walk a little further to Topo's and not 7-12 or mini stop so they could buy more for the same amount of money.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I used to buy a coffee or tea at the konbini before going to work each day, but then decided to buy 5 on Sunday at the supermarket and take one with mean each morning. I've saved a lot since I started doing that. The same can be done with snacks, too.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This article has me a bit gobsmacked. How did this person make it to adulthood without knowing that stuff in convenience stores are a tad pricier? It's called a convenience store for a reason. You're paying more for convenience. Tsk. Adulting failed.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

I wasn't aware that Japan had turnip trucks. This writer obviously just fell off of one.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

At the supermarket now I only see 350 mL bottles of Coke instead of 500 mL. Does anyone know if vending machines still sell 500 mL Coke? Shrinkflation everywhere

-2 ( +0 / -2 )


4 ( +5 / -1 )

I knew the answer to this question, but I was waiting for a conclusion that would have blown my mind. Didn't happen...

7 ( +8 / -1 )

At the supermarket now I only see 350 mL bottles of Coke instead of 500 mL. Does anyone know if vending machines still sell 500 mL Coke? Shrinkflation everywhere

My local supas have 500ml Coke. I don't know what your supa's issue is.

But, I prefer Pepsi. And, it comes in 600ml that cost less than Coke's 500ml. (78y vs 98y) So, I got that goin' for me.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

its market economy folks i no see this story "newsworthy" at all,choice is yours.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

All kinda "Bottom of the List" items for me.

How about the price of any number of varieties of onigiri, fresh sandwiches, hot freshly brewed coffee, nice red wine etc.

My local conbini is on par with or better than my local supa for these and some other sundry items.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I lost IQ points reading this.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I've always found the market stalls are cheapest and freshest

If you're buying processed stuff then Donki is probably best, Costco is a bit of a hassle to get to

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Aren't there like wholseale Costco in Japan?

Some every day handy items like Kitchen roll, washing powder, water bottle are worth it to buy as a big bundle.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Supermarkets are cheaper unless it is a convenience stores' personal brand of a supplier's product. They want to undercut the their suppliers.

I can get a bottle of Dr. Pepper at the supermarket for the same price as a can at the conbini or vending machine.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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