Over the past few months, I've shared a lot of the best secrets for saving on your grocery bill with coupons. But are you ready for one of the biggest secrets of all? Even more surprisingly, this one does not involve a single coupon ...
Super-Couponing Secret: The day of the week we shop makes a huge difference how much money we can save.
To understand this tip, consider this: Many grocery stores run two sales cycles each week. One flier comes out on Thursday and runs for seven days. This is the "long" cycle, which runs Thursday-to-Wednesday. But the same stores often have a second sales flier that comes out on Sundays and runs for four days. This is the "short" cycle, which runs Sunday-to-Wednesday.
Now, look at a calendar and pay attention to the days. There are four days each week when both cycles and sales fliers overlap: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. If your store participates in two sales cycles, these are the days you want to shop in order to maximize your savings. By shopping Monday through Wednesday, you gain the advantage of two concurrent sales rather than just one.
Why do stores do this? Look at the remaining three days in the week: Thursday, Friday and Saturday. These are busy days for a grocery store. Statistically speaking, they're also the days people are most likely to shop without much forethought. The weekend is approaching, the workweek is almost done and people head to the store. By contrast, when Sunday rolls around and the new week arrives, store traffic drops off. The store issues more sales and more deals on those days in order to drive traffic back into the store. These are the days we want to shop!
People often ask me how many times I'm at the grocery store during the week (I can't imagine why, but many people are under the impression that I practically live there!) The truth is much less exciting. I really do shop just once a week. But I always shop on one of days when both sales fliers are active.
Another reason to shop earlier in the week is that stores will raise prices on many items later in the week. My store recently had a sale on a brand-name cereal. At $1.25 a box, it was already a great price; with a $1 coupon, I took it home for a quarter. That sale ran Sunday through Wednesday. On Thursday, the same cereal was still on "sale," but the new sale price? $2.50 a box. The price doubled in one day! This is one of those hidden little games the stores play, too. The same items may be on sale, but the sale price is a lot less attractive as the higher-traffic shopping days approach
If you never clipped a single coupon, you would save a great deal of money just by shopping earlier in the week. If I had purchased my cereal on Thursday instead of Wednesday, I would have paid twice the price! Now, think about many other items in the grocery store take similar jumps in prices as the end of the week nears, and you'll see why it makes sense to shop on the days the sales overlap.
If you need even more convincing, consider what happens when the same product is on sale in both sales fliers. I've seen crackers on sale for $1.99 in the long-cycle flier while in the short cycle flier, the same crackers were on sale Buy One, Get One Free! The smart shopper who is in the store on the days that the sales overlap, will not only get the crackers for $1.99, they'll take home a second package for free. And if they use a coupon on each box ... Oh, the possibilities!
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Jill Cataldo, a coupon-workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at her Web site, www.super-couponing.com. E-mail your couponing coups and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.