UNC students know the Franklin Street Target all too well. The storefront is hard to miss and hard to avoid, being the only grocery store in the walkable vicinity.
The store is full of school supplies, personal hygiene products and UNC merchandise. You can also find a small section of produce and shelf-stable foods. The fresh fruit and vegetables are often sparse depending on what day of the week you go. Your only option for greens may be one lonely pack of spring mix tossed on its side.
Not only is Target’s produce section not well-stocked, but it often feels like you’re spending twice as much for a couple of apples than you would at another store.
This is because of Target’s “dynamic pricing,” where retailers can adjust prices due to a store's location, time of day or an item's projected profit over time.
For example, a Honeycrisp apple at the Franklin Street location is $2.39 compared to the $1.99 price tag seven miles down the road in Durham.
Even toothpaste is more expensive. The same Colgate tube is $7.69 on Franklin Street and $5.99 in Durham.
All of this is to say that products popular to college students may be priced higher than a store just 15 minutes down the road, as there is nearly nowhere else to get these essentials within walking distance, especially with the CVS closing in 2022.
Dynamic pricing is not unique to Target on Franklin, but it can affect all retailers. Shoppers who are not aware of this will end up paying more solely based on where they are physically located.
Stores like Target do this to maximize revenue, but dynamic pricing is predatory in almost every sense. Marking up essential items takes advantage of communities that do not have time to price match or commute to a discount grocery store.