I’ve gone to the same grocery store for years now. Here in Los Angeles, there is no shortage of available stores to shop at, but the local Ralphs (Kroger in some states) had two locations close to my house, and was the most convenient. Armed with my Rewards card, one of those two stores was where I went Saturday morning to stock up for the week.
Of course, inflation has been skyrocketing. As oblivious as I can be to these things, I started taking note of the rising prices and/or the lack of sales on items that used to be regularly priced competitively. One week, on a whim, I started checking out the circulars for eight grocery stores that come to the house every Tuesday. The flyers are for: Ralphs, Vons/Pavilions, Vallarta, Super King, El Super, Food 4 Less, Jons, and Smart & Final. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but I started noticing that many of the things I wanted to buy could be found for less if I shopped competitively.
I don’t want to be spending hours driving around town to save a dollar on eggs, but I have found that if done right, adding some of these stores to my weekly run just makes good business sense. Produce is often much less at Super King or El Super than it is at Ralphs. I am less comfortable with the meat at those stores, and still purchase that at Ralphs. But I can get peaches, nectarines, etc, for sometimes half the price at Ralphs – or even less. I’m not cheap, but I’m thrifty and like to save a buck as much as the next person.
I started testing the waters. I decided only to go to those stores that would not add a lot of time to my morning grocery run. That put Food 4 Less off the list, as well as Vons. I have no reason to drive the five or so miles to get to either one just to cash in on a few specials. El Super is a little out of the way, but not too far. If I bundle it with a trip to Super King, the timing works. Smart & Final is off my weekly path and only works if I’m heading to PetSmart—they are right across the street from each other.
One time I did do a giant grocery run of all the stores and found that it wasn’t worth my time to make that many stops that far away. I’ll stay closer to home. Now I eagerly wait for the weekly circulars to plan out the bargains store by store. A co-worker has also pointed me to the Flipp app, which is amazing. I can check all the prices for the items I buy regularly – and it has circulars online of stores that I never see. Revolutionary!
How about you? Do you bargain shop? Do you still do your own shopping? Tell me how the rise in prices has affected your shopping habits!