Be all that you can be and buy all that you can buy at the PX (Post Exchange). The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) runs more than 3,700 facilities -- including PXs and BXs (Base Exchanges) -- at US Army and Air Force bases in 30-plus countries (including Iraq), all 50 US states, and five US territories. Its presence ranges from tents to shopping centers, including 160 retail stores, 2,100 fast-food outlets (brands like Burger King and Taco Bell), 120 movie theaters, beauty shops, and gas stations. AAFES serves active-duty military personnel, reservists, retirees, and their family members. Although it's a government agency under the DOD, it receives less than 5% of its funding from the department.
While the AAFES receives little federal money, it pays neither taxes nor rent to occupy US government property. Its retail prices average about 25% less than the competition, and about two-thirds of AAFES's profits go into Army Installation Management Command and Air Force Services programs for amenities such as libraries and youth centers. During the past decade, AAFES has contributed more than $2.4 billion to these programs. Fiscal year 2011 sales reached more than $10 billion with earnings accounting for about $277 million.
Active military personnel head AAFES, but its staff consists mostly of military family members and other civilians. Some 23% of its more than 42,000 AAFES associates in 2011 were family members. That's down from 30% of its previous 43,000 associates.
AAFES shops are facing increased competition from Wal-Mart Stores, which is luring soldiers off base with its low prices. To better compete with big-box discounters and even moneymaking dollar stores, AAFES has begun adding dollar sections to its stores worldwide. With the pledge "We Go Where You Go," AAFES is a multi-channel retailer offering catalog and online shopping as well as retail stores. Its Exchange Online Store and Exchange Online Mall average a savings of 10-20% on more than 18 million items. – less