I have lived and breathed the grocery business. My father has worked in the grocery business for 30+ years. I worked in the grocery business for 10 years. I have eaten a lot of food since I was a kid and practically have lived there. I pretty much know the grocery business like everyone including myself should know Wall Street, really really well. That is why you are going to read this article and save big bucks the next time you hit the checkout aisle.
During my time working at grocery stores and then for a grocery company, I learned that trickery is #1 in this business. Not health. Not helping others. Trickery. Trickery was the end all be all of the grocery industry.
A few facts:
- Grocery companies make only about 1-1.5% profit. If there is any decrease in high priced items, profit falls to under 1%.
- Kids are golden tickets to the grocery business. In my opinion, I wouldn’t bring my kids to the grocery store if I had any.
- Like most businesses, product placement brings in high revenue and pushes targeted sales more than marketing.
- Employees are trained to push you towards more and/or expensive items. (And you thought that 17 year old bagger really cared what kind of cheese you actually wanted)
- Ice and water are the largest profitable items. Can sometimes be upwards of 90%.
- All grocery stores ads come out Wednesday and end Tuesday
Those are just a few facts. Obviously, these figures differ nationwide slightly, but for the most part these numbers hold true everywhere. The grocery business provided me the opportunity to pay my way through college as well as live on my own. It definitely helped me out. But that was also before I really cared about helping the consumer instead of tricking them. I have no problem with a profitable business or capitalism. I do have a problem with deliberate trickery that occurs in every square foot of the grocery business.
So, I am here to help you financially survive your next grocery trip. I am going to provide some great tips for learning to get more out of the grocery store for less.
- Make a list. Simple, huh. I probably threw away 5 customers lists a day. I probably checked out a couple hundred a day. The list people always got what they needed and nothing more. They saved. The people without a list had the overflowing carts. Make a list…pllllllleeeeaaaassse make a list every time.
- Always eat before hitting the grocery store. The grocery business loves it when you stop by on your way home from work. You are hungry, frustrated and just want what you want. What you usually want is the marked up crap food and you are willing to pay the premium for it. If you are even thinking about going to the store, eat something, anything before heading there. The less hungry you are, the more likely you are to not blow your money on that $2 baguette that cost them $0.10.
- Hit Produce First. If you go in there knowing what you are going to cook, you can grab those produce items first instead of prepackaged sides that are overpriced and unhealthy. Load your cart with produce and live a healthier life already.
- Don’t use a shopping cart. Grab a basket. The more space you have to put stuff, the more stuff you grab. You can also unconsciously buy only what you need buy carrying a heavy hand basket. Go with the hand basket and save.
- Buy Generic. I don’t care what anybody says, generic is the same stuff. You know where the recipes come from for the generic products. Directly from the name brand products. They sell the recipe to them. It literally is the same recipe. Buy generic and you won’t miss out on anything.
- Resist any purchases near the checkstand. 10% of all grocery sales come from products within 10 feet of the grocery stands. It may not seem like you are buying 10% of your groceries at the checkstand, but trust me, you are. I sat there 8 hours a day seeing people browse and buy stuff from the checkstand area.
- Be nice. I couldn’t tell you how many times I would go the extra mile to help a nice person. I also couldn’t tell you how many times I was just lazy and didn’t want to look everywhere in the back for that product that was on sale. If you are nice to the store clerks or grocery clerks (pretty much the guys running around restocking stuff during the day), they usually will get that $50 case of water from the back rafters for you.
- Force yourself to use the 10 items or less line. This doesn’t mean bring 15 items to the 10 items or less line. That really pisses everyone, including the checker, off. Buy only the things you need. To make a meal or two, you shouldn’t need more than 10 items. If you do, you are getting too fancy and not saving money. Force yourself to use the 10 items or less line which will lead you to buying less.
Hey, I know. The grocery business is extremely tough to navigate. Luckily, I know the tricks of the trade and you know some of them now. I suggest thinking prior to, during, and after your grocery experience. The more you do, the more you will save.
LifeEx Action Steps:
- Never, ever go to the grocery without a list.
- Make a budget, bring cash. Cash will force you to stick to the budget
- Read the ads carefully. Sometimes (ALWAYS) there are restrictions that apply.
Have a good one…