Groceries

Sneaky Grocery Store Tricks (And How To Avoid Them)

sneakygrocerystoretricksandhowtoavoidthem.jpgGrocery stores are experts at marketing and consumer behaviour.

They get you in the door, keep you inside as long as possible, and subtly trick you into spend more money than you planned.

I don’t go grocery shopping often (we get groceries delivered weekly) but when I do I’m always taken aback by the subtle things grocery stores do to part shoppers from their money.

Whether it’s putting fresh produce near the front to make it appear everything is fresh or keeping staples like milk and cheese at the back so people will wander the store, there are plenty of things they do to increase their sales.

Here’s a few things grocery stores do to trick customers into spending more (and how to avoid them):

External Cues

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Which Grocery Store Has The Lowest Prices?

whichgrocerystorehasthe_lowest_prices.jpgWho doesn’t like to eat good food? Let’s face it: we all do!

Now, what I don’t like is spending a fortune on food.

If you keep a budget, you may notice that food is one of your biggest expenses. Whether you are a family of one or a family of twelve, rising food prices affects your finances.

So, with all the competition between grocery chains, which is the best one to shop at for the lowest prices?

The front pages of the weekly flyers have deals to entice you to visit the store, but what about the additional items that you need to complete your list?

Do you also need staples such as rice, flour, coffee that perhaps didn’t make the list of sales this week? Those may be priced higher, but until teleportation becomes common, we can’t get the lowest price all the time.

The consumer price index (CPI) is an indicator used to measure the change in the cost of a fixed basket of products. One of the product categories monitored is food. Below is a table of foods based on the market basket of foods listed on Statistics Canada’s website.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Stacking Coupons And Deals On Groceries

Bonus: Use this Grocery Store Price Comparison Spreadsheet - and do your own calculations to get the lowest prices.

Grocery Store Price Comparison

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My System For Stacking Grocery Deals & Coupons

mysystemforstackinggrocerydealscoupons2.jpgSo, you have an organized binder full of great coupons and maybe you have even signed up with one or more of the Canadian coupon apps and are ready to find yourself some good deals. There’s only one problem: digging through your coupon binder and trying to match them with sale prices can be very time consuming.

I’m here to tell you that there is an easier way, and the system to do it all for you is a program already installed on your computer! It will not only help you find great deals, but sometimes you’ll even score free items when you stack paper coupons with online offers and rewards programs. When going through the weekly flyers, it will help you prepare a detailed shopping list to take with you to the grocery store.

“Window Shopping”

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Multiply Your Savings With A Coupon Book

multiplyyoursavingswithacouponbook.jpgLast year I managed to save a significant amount of money on groceries by using coupons I found in a coupon book.

Not only did I save money from the coupons I found, I also managed to multiply my savings so that I saved much more than originally planned.

Stumbling My Way To Big Savings

My strategy for multiplying my savings was something I stumbled upon in the process of using my coupons.

I bought a coupon book online for a fundraiser that raises money for local schools. The coupon book cost $20 but was huge – it had hundreds of coupons inside. I bought it for the grocery coupons as those were the ones that I knew I would use and would save me money. The book had about $60 in grocery coupons that I was sure to use, so I’d easily make my money back.

In the process of searching for the coupon book through online classifieds I noticed that there were others who were in the same position I was – they also bought the coupon book but would only use 5-10 coupons out of the hundreds that were available.

I noticed ads placed by others who wanted to trade the coupons they weren’t planning to use for the ones they would use.

Related: Couponing For Beginners

It was easy to find plenty of people to trade coupons with, as certain people were looking for certain coupons and almost everyone had coupons they weren’t planning to use.

I contacted a few of them and asked if they’d want to trade and I was in luck. I traded with numerous people via regular mail since it saved us the time and hassle of meeting to trade for relatively low-value coupons.

How Much Money I’ve Saved

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Organizing Your Coupon Binder Made Easy

organizingyourcouponbindermadeeasy2.jpgFor those who are just getting started with using coupons, you may find it a bit overwhelming to keep track of them. Perhaps you get frustrated trying to locate a specific coupon while in the grocery store, or get shot down at the cashier for not noticing that one has expired. There is a simple way to ensure your shopping trips go quickly and smoothly: organization!

Give Your Coupon Binder An Upgrade

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The Best Way To Use Your Save On More Rewards Points

thebestwaytouseyoursaveonmorerewardspoints.jpgEver wonder just what's the best way to redeem those More Rewards Points offered by Save on Foods, Pricesmart, Overwaitea Food Group, and Urban Fare? Or are you like most people who think they'll never add up to much anyway and just spend them when the cashier offers to redeem your points for a 'free' product? Admittedly, these aren't life changing amounts of money, but here are some tips on how to play "the game" more efficiently. After all, if one is allowing one's buying patterns to be used for data mining, why not get the most value for it?

Tips For EARNING Extra More Rewards Points

Let's say you are an avid collector - you just love buying the Big White passes each year for Christmas gifts and the feeling of getting a great deal! Or perhaps you love the idea of taking a 'free' flight. Here are a few tips on how to boost your points balances.

Earning In-Store

Besides collecting of the points themselves, value can also be found in using the card in store. It is becoming increasingly the case that you only get a discounted price on your grocery purchases if you scan your points card at the checkout. (The irony is that one of their major competitors, Safeway, has recently backed off of forcing their customers to bring in their membership to get discounted prices on groceries!)

Typically, "More Rewards" points are earned at a rate of 1 point per dollar spent when you shop at their grocery stores, including Urban Fare. It's a good idea to watch for double points days as well as bonus points that are offered quite regularly. Here are few in-store examples of how to earn points.

  • Bonus points on products - just keep an eye for the little blue shelf signs while shopping in store.
  • Multi-buy specials - A typical offer would be "Buy four boxes of Kelloggs cereal and receive 2000-3000 points." You usually don't need to clip the coupon from the flyer, just buy the product and the points show up on your receipt automatically. If you use the FLIPP app on your phone to find the product on sale cheaper locally elsewhere, you can save even more. (This app is fantastic, you can search for ANY advertised item and find out who has it on sale - click here to check it out.) Note: Some stores still won't accept price matching requests unless you have the paper flyer, so bring the flyer in when you shop if that's the case. Ask the cashier to price-match the items. You'll still get the points that are associated with those items, as they are automatically added by the system giving you more points per dollar spent.
  • Manager's specials - Each store is responsible for distributing their own points. Some Store managers offer a 1000 point incentive if you fill out one of their feedback surveys. Just bring in the confirmation sheet after filling out your survey, or fill it out online at the kiosk provided in select stores.
  • Share your account - Be sure everyone in your family has a card, they come on key-chain tags as well, so everyone can easily earn.
  • Use the kiosk - Most stores now offer a More Rewards kiosk close to the entrance where you can scan your card and receive bonus offers for spending set amounts. Typically one receives 375 points for a $35 spend, but the amounts are often MUCH larger if you spend more. Each card is allowed one scan per day. The highest value coupons are only offered to each cardholder occasionally, it seems.

Ways To Earn Outside Of The Grocery Store

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Canadian Price Match Policy Comparison

canadianpricematchpolicycomparison.jpgGetting competitors to match prices is a convenient way for consumers to save time and money. It saves time as several trips to different stores can be consolidated into a single visit. It also saves money through capitalizing on increased competition among retailers which can often amount to additional, sometimes significant, savings.

Knowing which stores have the best and most flexible policies is essential to saving the most money when price matching. To make the comparison easier, I've put together a big table comparing them to one another so you can quickly determine which stores to shop at.

The Price Matching Table

Store Policy Name Beat Or Match Price Protection Matches Prices Found Online Matches Prices Found
In-Store
Does Price Matching Matches Competitors Nationwide
Best Buy Lowest Price Guarantee 10%1 30 days In-Store In-Store & Online
Black's Price Match Guarantee 30 days In-Store  
Canada Computers Price Match Policy 14 days In-Store & Online Online
Canadian Tire Price Match Guarantee 10%2   In-Store  
FreshCo Cheaper Guarantee $0.013 7 days   In-Store  
Future Shop Price Beat Promise 10%1 30 days In-Store In-Store & Online
Giant Tiger Ad Match Guarantee $0.013     In-Store  
Home Depot Low Price Guarantee 10%2 30 days   In-Store  
Home Hardware Price Match Promise     In-Store  
Kitchen Stuff Plus Price Match Policy 10%1 14 days   In-Store  
Leon's Integrity Pricing 60 days In-Store  
London Drugs Our Guarantee 30 days   In-Store  
Lowe's Everday Low Price Guarantee 10%1 90 days In-Store  
Memory Express Uber Price Beat Guarantee 25%1 7 days In-Store & Online Online
NCIX Advanced Store Price Match   In-Store & Online Online
No Frills Won't Be Beat® promise 7 days   In-Store  
Real Canadian Superstore Price Matching Program     In-Store  
Rona In-Store Price Guarantee 10%1     In-Store  
Sears Price Protection Plus 30 days In-Store & Online In-Store
Sleep Country Canada Unbeatable Price Guarantee 5%1     In-Store  
SportChek Price Matching 30 days   In-Store In-Store
Staples Price Match Guarantee 14 days In-Store In-Store
Target Price Match Guarantee   In-Store  
The Brick Price Guarantee 10%1 30 days In-Store In-Store
The Source Best Price Guarantee 30 days In-Store In-Store
Tiger Direct Best Price Promise 14/30 days In-Store & Online Online
Toys R Us Price Match Policy 14 days In-Store  
Walmart Ad-Match Guarantee     In-Store In-Store
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When to Buy Things To Save The Most Money

whentobuythingstosavethemostmoney.jpgAn effective and simple saving strategy is to buy items in the off–season – when they are at their cheapest. For example, the price of air conditioners is the highest in the spring when the snow melts and it starts to get warmer. Prices start to come down in the fall as temperatures across the country start to drop.

Which season (and month) you buy an item can have a big impact on the price you pay for an item. Some things are significantly cheaper at certain times of the year. Below is a monthly breakdown of which months are best for buying certain items.

January

  • Christmas stuff (decorations, candles, ornaments, Christmas trees) can be marked down by up to 75% immediately after Christmas and leading into January.
  • TVs and home theatre systems. The two weeks leading up to Super Bowl have good deals and new stock comes in January through March.
  • Gift cards. Many people who received gift cards they don't want will post them on online classifieds sites to get rid of them at a discount.
  • Bedding, linens and swimwear.
  • Broadway show tickets. January is the slowest time of the year for Broadway shows, so the best deals can often be found then.
  • Video games. New games are released in the late fall for the Christmas shopping season, and tend to go on sale once Christmas ends.
  • Organizing supplies. Many people make new years resolutions related to getting organized. Plastic storage containers, label makers and other organizing supplies go on sale in January.
  • Cold and flu remedies – the peak of the flu season is in January and medicines, vitamins and pain relievers sometimes go on sale.
  • Gym memberships – promotions begin to cater to the new years resolution crowd.
  • Boats. Many boat shows occur in January and usually promotions (discounts) are offered.
  • Fitness gear. The new years resolutions start to kick in and people start trying to get in shape.
  • Hot foods and beverages – soup, chili, hot chocolate and anything else to keep you warm.
  • Other food – bananas, grapefruit, cabbage, carrots, squash.

February

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How To Get Started With Couponing

howtogetstartedwithcouponing.jpgYou may have seen the show Extreme Couponing, or may have been stuck behind an "extreme couponer" at the checkout. How do they do it? Where do they get those coupons from? Does it take a long time to plan and get organized? Well, read on to find out!

I didn't use coupons until a few years ago when I discovered coupon inserts in our local flyers. When I looked through them, I would clip the few coupons I thought I would need and recycled the rest. Back then, I could hold these few coupons in my wallet and still find them easily. Over time, I realized that you could actually get free items, or even make money with coupons!

This was a whole new revelation. I began saving coupons for products that I didn't ordinarily use on the chance that I could pick up a great deal. Generally, these bargains were not on my tested and true brands. Often, I had to purchase something we'd never tried before, but it was close to free or free. At that price, we could definitely afford to try it out!

Gradually, a small stockpile began to take shape. To keep clutter to a minimum, the products that I couldn't use before the expiry date or didn't need were either donated or shared with others. My ever expanding coupon collection needed a new home, so I now keep them in a sturdy pencil case. Extra coupons that I may not use but are still valid, I keep in a letter tray.

Years have gone by since my first days of couponing and I now have enough for our household that I don't need to jump on every sale. In fact, if you do miss a sale, keep in mind that sales occur in cycles and another is right around the corner.

Related: What To Do When Something You Already Bought Goes On Sale

Know What You Need

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A Complete Guide To Price Matching In Canada

acompleteguidetopricematching.jpg

When my first child was born, my wife and I agreed that a digital camera with video recording capabilities was in order; we wanted to be those parents who post embarrassing home videos of their kid on Youtube. I did some research and settled on a Canon model which could take videos in high definition. The only thing left for me to do was to find a decent price that we were willing to pay.

A few weeks went by before I noticed a pretty awesome one-day sale at Aden Camera with 25% discount on the camera we wanted. The store was located downtown and there was no way I was going to make it there in time before store closing. Instead, I walked into a local Future Shop (now Best Buy) where the same camera was listed for the original price of $1099. I told the customer service representative (CSR) that I wanted to price match the camera with the lower price from Aden. The CSR called Aden to confirm the price and stock. Long story short, after about 15 minutes and a price match later, I walked out of Future Shop with the camera we wanted for $825. #PriceMatchFTW.

Bonus: Get this 1.5 page summary of 24 Canadian retailer price matching policies. Print it. Use it. Anytime, anywhere.

What Is Price Matching?

Price matching is a practice wherein a retailer agrees to match a lower advertised price from a rival store and sells you the same product for the lower price.

Many retailers are committed to providing value to their customers through offering products at the lowest prices; however, it is difficult for them to keep an eye on the pricing of all their products. To remain competitive and increase brand loyalty, large retailers will offer to match competitors’ prices for the same items. The details concerning the specifics of what a given retailer will match can be found in a retailer’s price match policy or price match guarantee.

Price matching policies often don’t just apply to items you are going to purchase, they can also apply to items you’ve already purchased:

  1. If a customer has already made a purchase and finds the same item at a cheaper price from a competitor’s store, within an approved time frame, some retailers will refund the difference between the advertised price and competitor’s lower price.
  2. If the retailer reduces their own price on a product within a set period of time after a customer has made a purchase, the customer is often entitled to a refund of the difference upon request.

Related: Get Free Stuff Using The Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP)

The Different Types Of Price Matching

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