How to play the supermarket wars

So the correct strategy must be, first go in an buy all the stuff at regular prices, maximising the value of your money off voucher, and then do a second round where you buy all the stuff which is on sale, or 3-for-2 or 2-for-1 or whatever.

If there are two of you, you would just put the normal price stuff in one trolley and the special offers in the other trolley and pay separately.

27 thoughts on “How to play the supermarket wars”

  1. I understand that there are people who need to save £2 on their shopping, but he’s wrong in my opinion that it’s worth queuing in a supermarket twice for it.

    You’d be better off spending half an hour doing something else – I’d pay someone a tenner to come and spend the time picking up leaves etc in my garden, for instance.

  2. @Interested,

    It’s price differentiation, or whatever it’s called. They can make more money by charging the list price to people like you or me who don’t have the time, possibly don’t even look at the price of stuff thrown in the trolley, and a lower price to those who are cash poor (and thus have time to clip coupons). Costs are minimised by the fact that there is minimal overlap between the two groups, and very few people who take it to extremes.

  3. Bloke in North Dorset

    Those coupons are a damned nuisance. Just before Christmas I stood behind someone who’d done a massive shop and it took longer to sort out all the coupons, most of which weren’t valid, than to process the shopping.

    In the end she saved about £2 on a £150 shopping bill IIRC.

    I’d happily pay a premium to go through a faster checkout ohne coupons, although the Great Wise One wouldn’t so I’m still stuffed if we go together.

  4. BIND I fear checkout times, plus possibly travel inconvenience, is the single most compelling reason to do shopping online.

  5. Interested – what you’re saying about marginal value of time is correct in principle, and I suspect many people are irrationally misprioritising.

    Having said that, there are lots of people for whom the cash-time conversion is not so straightforward. People on hourly pay, generally low, and low/irregular hours for instance. They may be time rich but it’s not so easy for them to turn a spare half hour into cold hard cash whereas if they can save two pounds snipping vouchers that’s at least something.

    For someone like you it’d be a waste of your time to do that – you’d probably be better to go out and take a walk, or make some use of your gym subscription, or have a chat with a friend you’ve not spoken to for a while, or read up on something you’d been meaning to look into, or whatever else floats your boat, and get some enjoyment and perhaps other benefit (health or stress reduction or education or the value of a social network) from it, which should be worth far more to you than two pounds. Cash rich, time poor people who spend time on the voucher thing are their own worst enemy (but they do exist).

  6. Very clever but, there’s no need to queue twice or use two trolleys. If it is a full size trolley you could put the on offer stuff in the section at the front and all the rest in the main part of the trolley, and put the shops on the conveyor belt consecutively.

  7. So the correct strategy must be, first go in an buy all the stuff at regular prices, maximising the value of your money off voucher, and then do a second round where you buy all the stuff which is on sale, or 3-for-2 or 2-for-1 or whatever.

    I already do this, I just leave a week between the first and second round, which happens to coincide with my next shopping trip.

    Online shopping nowadays you just get a list of all the vouchers at the checkout page and you just tick those that can apply, there really is no hassle. I probably visit the supermarket about half a dozen times a year now.

    The best way to take advantage of supermarket bargains is to get a big freezer.

  8. I’d happily pay a premium to go through a faster checkout ohne coupons, although the Great Wise One wouldn’t so I’m still stuffed if we go together.

    You go shopping with your wife and you’re still married?

    Newlyweds, I presume?

  9. My dad once talked me through some Tesco-based wheeze whereby you could get six months worth of ketchup and bog roll (or something like that) for free – plus 5p a litre off petrol.

    Based on my wage at that time, the time I spent listening to him explain it (never mind actually do it) was worth more than the benefit I would gain. He, on the other hand, was retired and bored, and the time he spent coming up with this scheme was time he wasn’t spending polishing off my inheritance. So all was good.

    Mark W’s suggestion is a good one if you’re doing a big shop, you’ve got someone with you, and you expect to (with no extra effort expended) go back to the same place to shop again within the next week. I’ve had ‘price match’ voucher of 7 or 8 quid, without even trying, and only usually shopping for one. Seems like £20 or more isn’t beyond possible, which is equivalent to 50% off a passable bottle of scotch. I’d cross the street for that.

  10. Surely having 6 months’ supply of ketchup would drastically increase your need for bog roll, thus negating the cost saving.

    My solution is to ban pensioners and stay at home mothers on Saturdays. Mind you, at our local market hall I’d also charge €10 entry (redeemable against purchase) to keep all the damn tourists out.

    It’s a frigging market. Why do you want to come and gawp at well-to-do Frankfurters doing their fucking grocery shop? Because being German you’ve only ever seen one variety of tomato before? What the hell are touris doing here anyway, the whole town is boring as shit for outsiders!

  11. @TTG

    yep, I’d cross the street for £20, I just wouldn’t push a trolley round Tescos twice for it.

    Actually I might (and as others have pointed out there are easier ways to achieve the end anyway)!

    Re whisky, go to an auction – in these days of pubs closing down, you can get good-to-extremely good scotch at about 2/3 the retail price.

    I have enough of it to last me the rest of my life, from rare malts bought for under £100 (or at most just over) to box standard 70cl Glenmorangie/Glenfiddich bought for around £15.

    I’ve even convinced myself that the rare stuff is an investment.

    Old ports too – I gave my brother in law a bottle of 1963 vintage Warres for Christmas; he was delighted and assumed I’d really forked out.

    I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it had cost me less than half the White Stuff fleece he’d bought me.

    It was delicious, once decanted, too.

    /Infomercial over.

  12. @MBE, Interested’s point is that the coupon thing imposes externalities on everyone behind you in the queue. The discount, additional cashier time spent arguing over an expired 30 cent coupon and so on, the supermarket is prepared to accept it. What bugs me about these people is they seem to take the entire extended family to the supermarket. Possibly more than one wife, at least 3 children, various grandparents and other hangers-on. As if the supermarket is some kind of highlight of the week or special family outing. And said groups always contain several underemployed people who could have done it on a Wednesday mid-afternoon. Instead they have to pick the extremely narrow window of opportunity afforded to those of us having to work all hours to pay the tax to keep the place running.

    I really would ban it if I were dictator. Paying lots of tax should come with queue-jumping privileges over tax consumers.

  13. What you have to remember is that supermarkets are experts at separating you from your money, whilst making you think you have a bargain. Best bet is to become a regular at one of the “local” versions of the bigger chains, and get friendly with the managers. Much more likely to be able to do a deal on end of date items etc. Have you ever tried “doing a deal” at one of the big supermarkets?

  14. This voucher discount thing is effectively the creation of a time saving premium. Not collecting the vouchers saves time and that means a higher price. It’s very different from the time saving premiums achieved through packaging or preparation.
    I’d still be ok on an individual product level but too much of this and it becomes very hard for the consumer to actually evaluate what the market price actually is. Since that evaluation is rather important, to take that away from the consumer , I would think, really does lead to a less efficient system.

  15. Bloke in North Dorset

    “I’d happily pay a premium to go through a faster checkout ohne coupons, although the Great Wise One wouldn’t so I’m still stuffed if we go together.

    You go shopping with your wife and you’re still married?

    Newlyweds, I presume?”

    Nope, 31 years in April. Although when I do go it is on the understanding that it is under duress and happens when we’ve been out for the day and living in the sticks we tend to combine these with doing the shop on the way back.

    She knows I’d much rather do it on my own, or go hungry, and doesn’t push he luck.

  16. David Jones, you are in for a rude awakening I fear.
    Aldi issue money-off vouchers in the daily mirror, usually towards the end of each month. There’s usually a general £5 off (for £40 spend), plus an array of specific item vouchers, which are usually significantly reduced.
    We always shop there, but we are in the door at 8am, and out again before 9am. Otherwise it’s unbearable.

  17. Seems to me to be a two-day job, because you can’t use the voucher on the same day.

    So the saving, after the cost of getting there again, seems pretty minimal.

    Then setting that off against the cost of my time, makes it utterly up worthwhile.

  18. “Seems to me to be a two-day job, because you can’t use the voucher on the same day.”

    Go at 23:30, get through the till by 23:55, then go round again taking at least five minutes?

  19. In days long gone (the algorithm is now fixed), there was a bug at Tesco. If something on a BOGOF was reduced to clear due to short date, the automated till would put both items through at the clearance price, then apply the BOGOF at the full price. Thus if an item retailing at £1.50 was reduced to £0.30, and you bought two the system charged you 60p and credited you with £1.50 – an effective price of -90p. If you took a dozen, the price would be -£5.40.
    On one occasion, when a largeish basket of shopping came through at under £10, the cashier said “I don’t know what happened there”, to which I replied “I do”. On another occasion a small basket of shopping came through at a minus amount, at which stage I was asked “is it alright if we let you have it for free?”. I thought it wisest to waive any further rights.

  20. I am amazed at all these neoliberal baby-eating neocapitalist bastards doing supermarket coupons at Aldi. Don’t you realise that you are cheating The Poor™ out of their deserved discounts?

    Also, can you come do my shopping for me, seeing as you have so much time on your hands?

  21. BiG, a good question. A better one is this: why are the baby-eating, neocapitalist earth-destroying supermarket chains offering us such a good deal?

    What’s their game? Tax Avoidance will have something to do with it, but there must be something darker as well and I don’t just mean the vile practice of offering the relatively uneducated more than one choice of things. That’s just entry-level sadism.

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