How to Stop Being Conned by “Sale” Prices at Your Local Grocery Store

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Do you ever feel like grocery stores are a trap to take all your ever-loving money?

I love to shop at my local grocery store. They have great deals…sometimes.

Just this week I was able to stock up on some peanut butter and pasta at amazing prices from their case lot sale. I didn’t even need to use coupons.

But I sometimes feel like I have to do some detective work to get the best deals and not get conned by what looks and feels like a good deal, when it’s not.


How to Stop Being Conned by “Sale” Prices at Your Local Grocery Store

Does your money fly out of your wallet at the grocery store? Even if you are only buying sale items- you might actually be paying more than you should because of tricky sales tactics.

Buyer Beware

Every grocery store tries to get shoppers in the door with their sales. Sometimes these sale prices are legit deals. Other times, not so much.

Sometimes the grocery stores can get a little sneaky.

A common tactic I have seen at my local grocery store is that they have a high markup on all their products, then they knock a few cents off the inflated price and put a giant sale tag on it. It looks like a deal, but it ain’t.

Their sale prices are often still more expensive than Wal-Mart.

Sometimes the store even doubles the price of an item (usually a large meat product like a ham or a roast) and sticks a Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) sticker on it.

So you’re telling me that one week the ham is $15 and the next week it’s $30 BOGO?!

Do they have no shame?!

Just last week, I saw an end-cap (the shelves at the end of an aisle) filled with 3 shelves of cereal. The top two shelves were name brand big boxes of cereal and the bottom shelf was a smaller, less known brand that was on sale that week.

The sale price of the bottom row was on display on a neon green sign inbetween the 2nd and 3rd shelf.

There were no other price tags.

To the uninformed, it would have looked like the name brand cereal was on sale for the same price. Tricky, tricky!

If you don’t want your money spilling out into the cash register, you have to watch out for these traps.


What to Look For to Save Big

The best deals the stores advertise are called loss leaders.

They are the products that are discounted so deeply that the store will take a loss on the sale of that product, but because it gets you into the door to buy other products, they will ultimately profit.

But as an informed buyer, you won’t be falling for the false sales. You will only be stocking up on the true discounts.

Avoid tricky sales tactics to save the most money on groceries

Compare Sale Prices with Everyday Prices

The easiest and fastest way to check if a product is truly a good price while you’re at a grocery store is by scanning it with the Walmart app on your phone.

I like to compare prices to Wal-Mart because why would I stock up on a product “on sale” when in reality it is the same price (or more) that I can get any old day of the week?

To be able to easily compare prices, all you need to do is download the Walmart app for free, make an account, and choose your local store.

To scan an item, tap the tiny bar-code icon at the top right corner of the home screen.

When you are wondering if the sale price on a name brand item at a different store is a good buy, just scan the barcode and the walmart every day price will pop up.

If it is a store brand item you can do a search for a comparable item in the search bar. Be sure to pay attention to the price per ounce or pound.

If the sale price is about the same as the Walmart price, put it back on the shelf and just know that you are an amazingly smart woman.

Now, if you are lucky enough to have a grocery store nearby that is cheaper than Walmart, then you will want to compare your prices to that store- that is why you should create a price list.

I talk all about how to create a price list here and how to use it to save money.

It only takes a few minutes each shopping trip to create, and if you are serious about getting the best price, it’s worth it.


Plan Ahead

To make it easier on yourself in the store, plan out your grocery list ahead of time.

Find out when your local store’s ad comes out and compare the prices at home. Most stores run on weekly cycles, typically Wednesday to Tuesday, or Monday to Sunday.

You can find the ads in the local newspaper, inside the store, on your local store’s website, or the store’s app.

When you find the ad, Look for the loss leaders on products your family uses, and make sure to buy plenty when there is a great sale- especially for pantry items that will store well. I try to shoot for a 6 weeks supply.


Price Guarantee

If you get to the store and the product you wanted to buy is sold out, don’t fret.

Just ask the cashier or the store manager for a raincheck– this will guarantee you the sale price when it is re-stocked.

You will be able to come back in at a later time and buy the product at that price when you present your raincheck at checkout.

You can even use this waiting period to find manufacturer coupons to match the sale items and save even more.


When you are an informed buyer, and you know what a good price is on all the items you typically use, you will never be duped by a sales tactic at your local grocery store.

Just walk away a winner with a full wallet, and a cart full of deals.


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