Thursday, September 16, 2010

Is it Really the Best Deal? A Story of Clever Store Tricks

So we all know matching coupons to sales leads to great savings, but are you always getting the best deal? What do I mean by this? Well sure it seems like you are getting a great deal because you can see the savings, but did you stop to think if there is a better deal? Here's what I mean:

  • If you matched the coupon with a larger or smaller size, would you end up getting more for less money? It's a simple step to do, take the price of the item, subtract the coupon and then divide by the quantity of the product (oz, lbs, count, etc.). You may be surprised to find that it may actually be a better deal.
  • On a similar note to the previous one, could you actually get another brand cheaper? Sometimes you may be able to get another brand (or the store brand) cheaper without a coupon (or with it's own coupon), then the item that is on sale with a coupon. 
  • Is the store brand really the cheapest? I know most of us try to buy things on sale and with a coupon, but sometimes we need something that we just don't have a coupon for and so we automatically reach for the store brand, but is it really the cheapest? Not always. In fact, more than once I reached for the store brand, but then saw that a name brand was cheaper. (Although I must admit, this was mostly at Wal-mart, but did happen once or twice at Publix).
  • Is it really on sale? Sometimes stores put things in their ad and call it something similar to a sale like "surprisingly low price" or "every day low price." You think it is a great deal and so you buy it, but really it's not on sale. Wal-Mart is actually pretty notorious for this, they like to put those little roll back signs on something, so you will go wow that's a good price! For example, it will say "roll-back" $1.99, but in reality it costs $2.00 at Publix or Target.  Target does something similar called "temporary price cuts," where they put a sale sticker on the shelf, but when you look at the price under it, it's actually the same as their normal price. The moral of the store sometimes it's not on sale, they just fooled you into thinking it was. 
  • Did the price raise for a BOGO, 50% off, etc? Many times it does, but by how much. I will say Publix often raises the price of a BOGO item to the full retail price, which is still usually a good deal. For example normal selling prices of cereal may be $3.99, but when on BOGO it may be $4.29, you still save money buying the two and using coupons. However, some stores when they have a BOGO they actually raise the price by a lot. For example, the cereal will normally be $3.99, but on BOGO it may be $5.89, bot nearly a good of a deal.  
  • Be certain you buy the right sale item! I'd like to think stores don't do this on purpose, but I'm not always sure. By this I mean, sometimes the sale item is very specific, and if you aren't paying complete attention you end up buying the full price one. My most recent example was I thought I was buying Bumble Bee Chicken for 2/$3, but I grabbed a very similar can that was actually not on sale. It was right next to it on the shelf, one is white meat, the other is breast meat (umm also white meat?), one on sale, one was not. You just have to be vigilant to make sure to not grab the one that is not on sale. I really want to think it isn't done on purpose, but a lot of people do it, so I'm beginning to think that it's done so you purchase I higher price one.
So the moral of the story, be cognizant. Companies pay a lot of money researching how to get you to buy their product, but if you pay attention you will be better off.
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