If you change your approach to supermarket buying, you can reduce your shopping bill considerably. It takes a bit of thought and extra effort but it will pay you back.
The success of the supermarkets has been based on supplying what you want, when you want it at a bargain price. Their ideal customer just goes into one shop, buys everything they want without paying too much attention and heads for home. You should aim to be their nightmare customer – as ruthless in your buying as a supermarket buyer!
Learn the Prices
If you can, split your shopping between different stores and pay close attention to the prices. You don’t need to memorise them all but you do need a good feel for what the individual items that you buy cost.
Don’t trust them!
Don’t assume that the packets are the same size. We noticed that Arborio rice had apparently dropped in price but on closer inspection the packet had changed. No longer was it 1,000 grams, it was now 750 grams. The actual cost per 100 grams had gone up by 20%.
Don’t assume the larger packet is better value either. I’ve lost count of the number of times it has actually been cheaper to buy smaller packets than large.
Often you’ll find a massive stack of a product at the end of an aisle and think it’s on offer or must be a good price. Not always though. We’ve found that sometimes a similar product on the shelf is better value in a different pack size.
The best value for money items are often on the bottom shelves. The shelves at your eyelevel are going to move goods fastest so logically the most profitable ones for the shop are going to be there.
Working the OffersYou should make the offers work for you. Supermarkets have patterns to their offers. It varies between the different outlets but basically something comes on an offer for a period, is off for a period and back on again.
Many of the things we buy regularly will store for a long time. Tinned goods have about a year’s shelf life. So with many of the staples, we bulk buy on offer to last until the next time they’re on offer.
After a while you begin to get a feel for offers. Perhaps you’re down to a couple of tins of beans or the last carton of teabags but you know they’ll be coming on offer next week so you hold on.
Loyalty Cards and Vouchers
The loyalty card basically rewards you for providing the supermarket with information about your shopping habits. They develop a profile of you and can tailor their adverts to you. There is little point in offering you cheap dog food if you keep a cat. All a bit ‘big brother is watching you!’
It’s well worth going through all the vouchers they send you and using them, so long as you were going to buy that product anyway. Don’t forget the basic rule of checking the price. 20p off something that is 30p dearer than elsewhere is no bargain at all.
They also like to send you £2.00 off when you spend £20.00 vouchers. We make use of these by buying what we would normally plus something that will store and is on at a good price.
If you just spend £20.00 the discount is 10% but they hope that you will go in and spend £30.00 making it just 6.66%. We feel we’ve lost if the shopping comes to more than £21.00 on a £20.00 voucher buy.
Don’t forget, there’s usually nothing to stop you using two vouchers on the same shop. So you get your 20p off cheese and your £2.00 (10%) off the purchase. After all, they’re encouraging you to buy with these offers, it would be silly not to use them.
Finally, Double Check!
As you pay for your shopping don’t just pack away, check the price as it goes through the till and before you walk out of the store scan down the receipt. I think we end up going back to customer services with a mistake about one in five shopping trips. Strangely, we can’t think of a time when we have found a mistake in our favour.
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