Supermarket Discounts – 5 Simple Tips

If you have read my previous article on Supermarket Discounts – Pre-Expiration Sales, you would have learned that there are people who take advantage of the late-night discount to purchase food at 50% off and save a good amount of on daily food budget. Here are 5 simple tips to get your get a step ahead other shoppers when hunting for discounted items so you can go home with a fried-pork-cutlet bento instead of having four rice-balls for dinner.

1. Bee-line straight to destination
Experienced shoppers know to head straight to what they came for, especially when the discounted good would not wait around. Rather than wondering around other sections of the supermarket, head straight to towards the deli and meat corners for the goods. You have to realize that you are not the only person who came to hunt down the discounts and This Is War! So stop screwing around at the snack shelves and go straight for what you came for. Keep in mind this famous saying I just made up: “The potato chips are grounded there, but the discounted fried chicken will fly away.”

“Just a moment slower and the entire bread section might be cleaned out by someone…… like me.”

2. Spot the stickers
The discount stickers used are usually red and yellow with big bold numbers to make them pop out and catch your attention. However, many products have colourful packaging and other informative labels that might make them hard to spot. Train yourself to spot the shape and colour of the stickers from afar. 0That way, you can tell which shelves have none of what you want, and you can walk straight towards the one pack of meat that is half priced while others are digging through dozens of regular priced packs.

“If you didn’t know better, you might have thought that the half-price stickers were part of the package design.”

3. Look for the racks
Related to the second tip, knowing exactly where to look for will increase your loot chance significantly. Many grocery establishments have separate racks or sections of the shelves for these discounted items. Even if not, they tend to put the expiring-soon goods in front so customers would spot and clear them out first. After all, the supermarkets are not trying to hide them from us. You just got to know where to look.

“An expired sandwich is as good as trash to them. They WANT you to find them.”

4. Know your supermarket managers (tenchou)
By this, I don’t mean making friends with the managers (awesome if you can!) However, if you can recognize the market managers or other staff who decide when and which stickers to place, you will know what they are up to when they head towards the deli.
An end-game max level technique I have seen pulled off was by a woman who befriended one of the staff. The woman passes the staff the food products, and the staff would go to the backroom and place on extra discounted stickers before the warranted time. It is definitely cheating, but I must admit how impressive that secret skill is.

“Bonus Protip: if you see the discount sticker cart without the manager, you are probably too late.”

5. Study their sale time
Learning their sale time will not be easy as there are so many factors each supermarket has to consider. However, you can still make educated guesses with information you gather.

First off, you want to know that there are usually 2 waves of discounts: a light discount (10%-20% off), and a heavy discount (40%-50% off). The first wave usually begins between 5:30-7pm, when they can make the less-fresh items immediately more attractive to those looking for an easy dinner.

Depending on what time the supermarket closes, the second wave also varies. From what I have noticed, supermarkets that close at 10 or later usually begin the heavy discount 1.5-2 hours before closing. For ones that close earlier, the second wave usually occurs 30mins-1.5hour before closing, if they have anything left-over. Either way, their strategy is to bring out the half-price stickers AFTER dinner time, because those looking for a quick dinner would make purchases even before a deep discount. Therefore, when I go for supermarket-hunts at 9 or 10pm, I am not looking for tonight’s dinner, but dinner for tomorrow (and perhaps the next few nights as well).

If you are feeling lucky, you might even want to hang around for the last 15 minutes or so and see if the supermarket gives a third wave of discounts to get rid of the final items. You might score some delicacy at up to 80% off!

“73% off on this plate of sushi? Not too shabby……”

At the end of the day, if you really cannot get the timing down, just go more often and stay for longer until you recognize a pattern. The more you shop there, the better you will be at it.

Are these tips helpful, or are they too introductory for you? Share your other grocery tips in the comments below. If you are looking for more, I shall introduce five advanced level techniques next time. Stay tuned!

Guest post written by Jackson Lee.


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