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Friday, November 19, 2010

Holiday grocery shopping, part 2

Here is a display of Libby's food products from the 1950's. Notice the loose cans in the front. That was a gimmick to entice more sales as customers were likely to pick them up than disturb a perfect display. It's all about merchandising. (Flickr)
A year has passed and we are again into the holiday grocery shopping season. Last December 21 (see archives) I did a column with some advice for shoppers about pitfalls to avoid. I mentioned the importance of keeping a hand written list at home of necessities for your shopping trip and to be sure you know the stores ad for that week. Clip as many manufacturer’s coupons as possible from magazines, newspapers, or anywhere else you see them.

Be sure you have the store’s card, buy in bulk when possible, buy private label, be careful of peripheral departments, leave your cell phone at home, and NEVER shop when you are hungry! If you followed that advice you saved some money.

Here are a few more ways to save a buck at the grocery store. You have to keep in mind that the stores are in business to make money and the only way they can do that is with the customer’s permission. That is why stores spend a lot of money on research to find ways for you to spend more than you intended. That may seem devious and in a way it is, but they are not putting a gun to your head. It is up to you to use common sense while shopping, especially if you are on a budget.

Watch out for “end cap” displays at the end of aisles. If an item from your list is on the cap, go ahead and buy it, then proceed. Otherwise, pass it up. End cap items are usually high profit stuff or tie in with other products. Also, watch out for “shippers” which are usually full of high profit items and placed in the aisles with like items.

Be careful with free samples. Stores usually have kindly old ladies cooking up stuff for you to sample and they are usually in a high volume area of the store like the meat department. Usually the item is high fat or sweet but tastes really good. Try and avoid this stuff as it is unhealthy, expensive, a high profit item. You shouldn’t be hungry anyway since I told you to eat before shopping.

Okay, let’s assume you have made it this far and have dutifully followed this blog and the one from last December. In your mind you are thinking about what a genius I am and for that I say, “Thank you.” However, you have one more hurdle to jump. That involves going through the check stand without succumbing to the lure of picking up a couple candy bars or a magazine. I know it’s hard; I love those Snickers too but we must be strong. And, do you really care about that magazine describing Lindsay Lohan’s latest drunk escapade? Of course not, you are a mature adult, right? Let the kid bag your items in the cloth bags you brought with you, pay the cashier with a credit card that racks up points, and be on your way.

As you go to your car, hold your head high. You have resisted temptation, saved money, helped support a business, and shopped sensibly.

To leave a comment or to read the other 60 comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for The Arizona Republic in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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