Thursday, August 30, 2007

11 Tips for Cutting Grocery Bills from Consumer Union

"Avoid store fake-outs," is one of 11 money-saving tips for grocery shoppers in the Aug/Sept. issue of Shop Smart, a publication from Consumers Union/Consumers Report. Here's a summary:

  • Shop at cheap outlets: The stores with the lowest prices include: "Aldi, Costco, Market Basket, Slater Bros., Shoppers Food Warehouse, Trader Joe's and Walmart." The downside: fewer choices at stores like Trader Joe's and Aldi or shoppers must make bulk purchases at Costco.
  • Be wary of circulars: Featured products in circulars often see a spike of up to 500 percent in sales volume. So stores like to highlight lots of items in their weekly circulars. The catch, says Shop Smart: "Not all items in circulars are on sale [at a discount]."
  • Watch product placement: ("Avoid store fake-outs) Look out for products placed in bins at the end of shopping lanes, in "island displays," or in the middle tier of a shelving unit. Those eye-catching locations typically contain higher-priced goods.
  • Ignore colors: Marketers play head games with color. The concept: certain colors are more apt to gain your attention. So play your own games with the marketing gurus and ignore their color codes.
  • Cut your own fruit/Slice your own cheese: Don't pay extra for pre-cut, pre-frozen, pre-sliced fruits and cheeses. Slices of Jarlsberg cheese, for example, were priced at $7.99 per pound at a deli counter, compared to $3.99 per pound for a block. Likewise,the shoppers at the magazine found a chilled 16-oz beverage for $1.19, but the same bottle was 50 cents cheaper when it was stored warm on a shelf.
  • Buy store brands:The quality of store-brands is often comparable to name brands and the price can be 50 percent cheaper.
  • Use price guarantees: Many chains or stores will match competitors' prices on promotions and sales.
  • Shop alone: You may spend more if you shop with your kids or your spouse.
  • Skip the impulse purchases: Make a list and stick with it.
  • Use store cards: Many stores offer frequent shopper cards, which entitle you to different perks, including unadvertised specials.
  • Check out the scanners: 70 percent of the participants in survey reported finding mistakes made in the checkout line.


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Dave Lucas said...

Sharon, The tips you provide in your blog are very helpful. I have one: many times people will spend a dollar or two everyday on a "scratch" or other lottery ticket. I would challenge them to take the single dollar, and, everyday, place it in a small box (boxes blank checks come in work quite well) and vow not to take any money OUT of the box until the dollar bills reach the top. When that happens, take the money, count it out: that's how much wyou would have lost had you continued scratching those lottery tickets every day! Take the money and ENJOY it or SAVE it!

phantomdata said...

Interestingly enough there's a bottling plant nearby for a big-name water bottler whose plant manager came in to lecture at one of my uni courses. He mentioned that not only are store brands comparable, but that this particular plant uses the exact same water simply slapping on a different label.

Marcus Aurelius said...

I worked in a canning factory Lakeside in a Wisconsin city. I never remember seeing labels being put onto the beans nor have I ever seen "Lakeside" brands even in the local stores. Clearly, the product was sold to whoever and whoever put the labels on.

fatwallet said...

I hate shopping but its jus something we have to do. When I go to walmart with my son we do a great job of sticking with our budget, but when I go with my wife we have a lot of trouble, she is an impluse shopper, dosent check prices, dont shop with a list, and love to buy high price items. If you check the labels they all got in the same ingredients, its jus a matter of colour and label. One day we went to walmart to get some bottle water there was one ct of 24 for 3.88 and jus around the corner there was a ct of 28 for 3.88, she did;nt even noticed it until i showed it to her.