Even though retail prices are creeping higher as high costs to manufacturers are passed along to consumers, there are ways to score deals and save money while shopping.
The national Consumer Price Index — which measures what shoppers pay for items — has gone up 1.7% from June 2011 to June 2012, the latest numbers available according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
So that means we all have to dig deeper in our pockets to buy things. Some items have gone up more than others. Peanut butter, part of that brown bag lunch staple PB&J sandwich, now costs 42.1% more than in 2011 — mostly due to drought-limiting crops in the peanut-growing South. Beef, chicken and pork prices are all up too.
Couple that with price hikes for clothing and other needed items and it’s painful for consumers’ pocketbooks. To try to ease those pains, here’s five ways, in no particular order, to save money while shopping.
1. Get store membership cards. Retailers of all kinds including supermarkets, gas stations, drug stores and clothing retailers have membership cards that offer discounts to their loyal customers. Yes, the stores track your purchases and use that information to tailor coupons to your shopping habits as well as collecting consumer information for their use. But these cards can save you big bucks off your entire purchase. Plus, there’s no reason you can’t have multiple stores’ cards to maximize your shopping options.
2. Use coupons of all kinds. These days coupons can be found all kinds of places — on cereal boxes, on social media sites including Facebook and Twitter, in-store, in email alerts and newspapers, among other places. Sign up for email alerts from your favorite store for notices about discounts, sales and coupons. Check online sites like CouponCabin.com or RetailMeNot.com. Look also for QR codes (Quick Response codes) that a smartphone can scan in to get more discounts and other specials.
3. Cash in those rebates. It can be a paperwork headache to save and categorize all those receipts, but you can get money back on your purchases.
4. Schmooze with the store employees. A friendly conversation with a store’s employees can yield a wealth of information including when deals will be happening or where they can be found. Speaking from experience on this one, I scored on several occasions bags of snow crab legs for $3 a pound when the going cost was $8 a pound for the whole crab after talking with the meat counter workers. The national supermarket chain store would bag up the crab legs that broke off in shipping to the store and sell them separately at a discount.
5. Can you wait for the deeper discounts? This saving strategy is an exercise in patience. With back to school shopping getting under way, retailers will offer bigger discounts the closer we get to the start of the school year. The International Council of Shopping Centers estimates the average American household will spend $300 on back to school items this year.
When will you do your shopping? Do you have a trick to save money while shopping retail?
Photo Credit: krossbow