Looking at supermarkets vs. supercenters

In my Super-Couponing classes, I'm often asked whether it's easier just to shop at a supercenter, large grocery-discount store combinations that offer "every-day low prices," or shop at a traditional, "more expensive" supermarket using coupons to achieve greater savings. If you've used coupons for any length of time, you know it's possible to achieve much better savings at the supermarket by following the sales and matching them with coupons.

The reason? Believe it or not, the "every-day low price" strategy is the culprit. Supercenters maintain low prices, avoiding the traditional cycle of sales and price cuts common at supermarket chains. At a supercenter, a $2.50 box of cereal will sell for $2.50 this week, next week and three weeks from now. Meanwhile, over at the supermarket, the price of the same brand of cereal is fluctuating from high to low. It may be $2.99 one week, $2.49 the next and $1.99 the next.

Many shoppers find comfort and a sense of confidence in knowing what prices will be, week after week, at a supercenter. But the truth is price fluctuations make supermarkets the best places to shop for someone who's trying to save even more money.

As we've learned, making the most of the supermarket's price cycle can be advantageous to shoppers. When the price of a certain cereal brand takes a dip to $1.99, it's less expensive than the supercenter's price. That's when we move in and use our coupons to bring the price down even more. Sure, we could use the same coupon at the every-day low-price store. But when the sale price of the item at the supermarket drops below the every-day low price of the supercenter, we save even more buying the item at the supermarket.

Recently, a new supercenter opened in my town. During its grand opening the store was abuzz with people lining up, excitedly waiting to take advantage of the low prices. I was curious to compare the new supercenter's prices with those at other supermarkets in our area. I had just been to the supermarket the previous day and I had my receipt showing the sale prices (before my coupon savings) on 21 different items.

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