Is it worth it to shop at multiple stores?
Is it worth it to shop at multiple stores?
Have you ever wondered: is it worth it to shop at multiple stores? I have – and my answer is no. It’s not. Not for me, anyway.
Most stores have a new sales flyer every week, and many times there will be a few good deals at one store and a few good deals at another. So which store do you shop at? Both? Or just the one with the most deals that you want to take advantage of?
I know that many of you will not believe me when I say this, but I really dislike shopping and avoid it at all costs. Unfortunately, it has to be done and I’m better at it than my husband (even he will attest to that!), so the job is mine.
If there’s anything I don’t like more than shopping, it would be bouncing around from store to store, trying to get the best deal. Instead, I try to find a happy medium.
1. Find the deals
I scour the sales flyers every week and write down all of the deals that I think are worth picking up, making a note of what store the sales are at. I am probably not going to end up getting every single good deal, so I will highlight each deal that are definite must haves, so that I know they will need to be picked up no matter what.
I write down everything from produce, to groceries, to toiletries – anything and everything that I deem to be a good deal.
If I have coupons for certain sale items, I will put a star next to them (and the amount of coupons) on my list. This way I will remember to pull out my coupons when I make my final shopping list.
2. Determine price match opportunities
I shop at Walmart pretty much every week because I know that I can price match other sale flyers there.
After making my list of good deals, I will then look it over and make a note of all the items that I can price match at Walmart.
It’s rare that I don’t end up price matching anything when I shop at Walmart. I almost always do.
3. Cut the rest
Whatever I am unable to price match and is not on my “must-haves” list, gets cut.
I don’t care how good of a deal it is.
A common error that many first time couponers make is trying to get all of the deals. This is just not possible (nor is it worth it, in my opinion). You will run yourself ragged if you try to go out and pick up every single freebie, every single 10 cent deodorant and every single $5 box of diapers.
Take advantage of the deals that you can get easily, without having to shop at 10 different stores. Doing this will ensure you will be much less stressed when shopping (if you’re stressed at all).
By limiting the amount of stores that I shop at every week, I am not only saving myself time, but transportation costs as well. Gas isn’t cheap – so don’t waste it!
Do you shop at multiple stores to get deals?
It definitely depends on what stores are around you, I am not going to halfway across town even if it’s a hot deal, it just doesn’t make sense to me. For instance, my closest Walmart is quite a way for me, so I only go once in a while, stores like shoppers are more accessible.
Definitely agree that it is *not* worth driving from store to store to pick up the one or two items that are cheaper than somewhere else. Time is money.
Also many times you’ll notice that whatever is on your ‘cut list’ ends up being on sale the following weeks at a location that’s more convenient to you.
How exactly do you pricematch? present the other store’s flyer to the cashier?
Thanks for this. I was led to your site because I just got interested in couponing but was overwhelmed with all the information. These tips are great to get me started while I start collecting coupons.
No Frills is another store that price matches. Also another great thing is that they are owned by Loblaws, so if you go to the superstore or loblaws and tear all their coupons there, you can use them at No Frills, which tends to be cheaper by far. This weeks I bought alot of sunlight dishsoap for 49 cents each….Happy shopping 🙂
I shop very similarily. I made an excel spreadsheet where I write down what is on sale for a good price at each store. I will note how many coupons and the value beside the item. I have another little section where I’ll write down what we actually need-there is rarely anything on that one ie cream for coffee (but I will buy 3 or 4 when it is 1.99 so it lasts a while), bananas, soy milk, onions, etc. I don’t note specific fruits and veg as I only buy what is on sale apart from bananas.
Then I highlight what is a great bargain that I would buy and will note if I can pricematch at Zellers to save the 10% or No Frills as ours has well trained coupon-taking cashiers and an excellent produce department. For me though, I live 25 minutes from town so once I am IN town, I don’t consider the gas to run from store to store-all close enough together, but I do consider the $4-5 in gas it takes to GET me into town. Many weeks I simply do not shop at all and stay home, or grab bananas and milk on the way home from church.
I have always shopped this way though, always had a stockpile of my rock-bottom priced stuff, and a freezer full of meat (this year is the first year in about 7 years that we haven’t had a 1/2 cow order–not happy about that! Must find me some grass fed beef!) Couponing has really just enabled me to snag a ton of stuff I don’t normally buy and donate it to our local food bank/shelter. Before I would buy several deodorants when it was on sale for us. Now I buy lots for next to nothing and donate it.
I used to do a lot of my shopping at a smaller grocery about 7 minutes from us as it was convenient with two littles…but they stopped carrying the soy milk we like so if I had to head to town to buy that anyhow, I am certainly going to pick up what I need at 3/4 the price! Even then, I still mostly sale shopped… Too bad, their loss!
This week: ground beef for 1.99/lb, broccoli and mushrooms .99, Kraft sizzlers for 2.49 (coup) at Valumart, some grapes .87 Walmart, 10lb potatoes $2 Walmart, flavoured tuna .77 pm Walmart at Zellers (coup), and scrubbing bubbles (coup) at No Frills along with cucs .88 and pears .88. The only thing we actually NEED is onions (NF) and milk-likely Food Basics as they are the cheapest-Rexall carries it but I haven’t got my giftcards from Airmiles yet! Yet my list has over 100 items on it…
I try to price match at No frills but its just such a hassle cant be bothered, one time I was in line and there was 2 sisters in front of me they were price matching, first one goes threw not alot of problems but they have to ask permission for every item price matched, then her sister proceeded to go threw with her groceries and the crazy cashier told her she could not use the flyers her sister had she had to have her own have u ever heard of anything like it OMG !!!!!!!!!! so that is why i try not to price match there also they have have a limit on the items u can price match (4) what’s that all about. walmart and zellers is def my choice to price match at.
I, on the other hands, love grocery shopping. It’s almost therapeutic (sp?). Luckily for me, all the stores and grocery stores are all close to one another (about a 3 minutes radius). We got the Atlantic superstore, Sobeys, Co-op, Giant Tiger, Zellers, Lawton drugs, Shoppers, Costco and Walmart all close to one another.
I used to shop at a lot more stores before I had kids. Now, it’s a assle to get both kids in and out for just one things or two. I usually do 1-3 stores per grocery shopping, but it has to be more then just one great deals.
This is great advice indeed! It can be tempting to run around to every store to score the best deals but it is important to remember that your time is valuable.
Price matching is definitely one way to get the best of both worlds – but it can also be time consuming and a major hassle depending on what store and cashier you are dealing with.
Justine – Very true. If you have like 10 stores all within minutes from each other, it may be worth it to shop at them all. However, for me, I shop with a child and it is honestly a pain in the ass to strap him in and take him out of his carseat 20 times to go to 10 stores. By the 5th store he would just start screaming and freaking out.
travelgeek – I have noticed that! And I always breathe a sign of relief when it happens. 🙂
daisy – Yes, you present the other stores’ flyer to the cashier. 🙂
LPC – I’m glad that this could be helpful to you. 🙂
Angie – I do not shop at No Frills often, because the location near me is always extremely busy. 🙁
teachermum – We would be good shopping companions, hehe. 😉 You definetely have to take your gas money into consideration when shopping, but many people don’t. If you spend $5 driving somewhere just so you can save $5, well – you’re not really saving anything then, are you? 😛
Linda – I used to shop at more stores as well, before I had Elliott. Now, it’s just such a hassle to strap him in and take him out of his carseat so many times.
marsha – I agree that it’s a hassle to price match at No Frills if you have many items. I tried it before and never again! You’d think they would be happy for the sale, sheesh!
SavingMentor – I don’t usually have issues when price matching, but on the times that I have, wow, it can be very stressful for sure.
I try to take into account some ecological and social factors when calculating costs. For example, driving to different stores must be weighed against the emissions of driving further to get cheap stuff. I really encourage people to consider Walmart’s business practices when deciding whether or not to shop there. The real costs are much higher than the cheap prices.
the seduction is:
* lower prices ‘every day’
* low inflation
and the downside is:
* low wages
* low product quality
* high unemployment
* high poverty levels
(From the article http://howtosavetheworld.ca/2003/11/18/)
I am not trying to preach, just encouraging informed decision making.
I can only go shopping with my 3 kids (ages 9 months, 9 months and 2) at certain stores due to the set up of their carts. I never in my life would have thought of this before having kids. Wal mart has a special cart that has a toddler attachment and makes it easy for me to bring two infant seats, a toddler and my groceries…so wal mart ends up getting most of my business. Zehrs/loblaws/superstore/no frills gets the rest usuually because I can fit the two infant seats, one on each level of the cart and my toddler in the seat. So when it comes to deals, I really only go to a select few stores. Which means when the deals of chicken, ground beef, etc come on sale, I REALLY need to stock up. Before kids, I would go to 3 or 4 stores to get the best prices, but I also had the time to do that.
Do you find you have a hard time when you price match? I saw about 10 items cheaper at another store and when I was at Walmart I wondered if I can get so many price matches.
Any suggestions are appreciated
And thanks so much for this website, I am learning a lot of great things to help my family save.
Great tips, thank you! 🙂 I have a Walmart, Loblaws and Zellers all within less then 2 minutes of each other, so I regularly go to those stores and hardly spend much on gas traveling to each store. Those stores are literally around the corner from where we live (I could walk there if I wanted too, but not easy to drag groceries home! lol). I ocassionally will go to No Frills, since it’s on my way home from work, but only if they are having a REALLY good deal. That place is always crazy, no matter what location you go to. My problem before I started couponing, was I would just shop at one store (Loblaws or Metro). Once I started paying attention to flyers and deals, I realized how expensive Metro is! Now we rarely go there because it’s so pricey, and because it’s on the other side of town. I think that’s the main thing that some people get carried away with, is trying to get every deal! They end up not saving any money because they’ve driven around for hours and spent more than double they usually would!
I guess I’m lucky, I have a Price Chopper, Freshco, Superstore, Shoppers, Metro, Food Basics, Zellers and WAlmart, all within 10 minutes of my house, and not counting Walmart, 5 minutes! I don’t hit them all each week, taht would be crazy, but I will usually hit a few going to where the best deals are. Because they are so close, I’m not really wasting gas money. And if I want to go to Zehrs or Sobeys, I usually go there on a trip across town to my parents, as those are near my parents.
I have 5 kids, and grocery shopping with them can be nuts ( almost 8, almost 8,6,almost 4, 1 1/2). Tabatha, I remember those days , 2 car seats, or 3 kids under 2 in a cart, crazy! I’d pack groceries in and around baby seats, it was nuts! As they are older now, I usually just have the younger two with me, it get’s easier!
When I initialy got back into couponing, I felt i had to get every deal! I burnt out, and it consumed a lot of time. Now, I peruse the papers, look for the best deals, and just let the other items go! There is always another deal, and I’m catching on to the sales cycles. It seems to be a pattern of when items go on sale. I love having a stockpile, but it’s not going to happen in a month, I’m aiming for a fully stocked one in a year or so.
Vicki, it may depend on your store, but I have absolutely no issue price matching at my Walmart. Half the time they don’t even look at the flyer, just tell me to tell them what the price is! I think I got a newbie the other day and she actually checked the date…but still did it painlessly. I have gone through Walmart and price matched about 10 things and bought nothing else (only had time for one stop on the way home from somewhere), no issues whatsoever. It helps if you can peg certain cashiers as good ones too!
No Frills must call a manager to tell them what the item is which can be a pain, but no cashier at my store ever acts as if it is an issue. They are all very well trained there and seem so happy to see my deals! I think they make the call because if everyone is pricematching something I think they mark the price down in the system ie one time they had chicken on for $3.49 (good deal!) but Food Basics had it on for $2.77 (GREAT deal) but they had actually already marked theirs down to $2.77/lb so they just needed to be scanned through. I’ve had that happen with a few produce items too.
You are right Cassie, it has to be worth the $5 for me to shop at all! I have so much here I can usually make due unless there are SEVERAL great deals.
For those with littles, if there was a really big deal/sale week and we could use many of those items, I would head out right after supper and let Dad bond with the kids-if it was bath night, even better! Nice to come home and have them already tucked in and sleeping (though that was actually after my youngest stopped nursing at about 15 months…) Otherwise, we often used to pick up Grandma and make the rounds together. Two carts, four hands, much easier!
gaiagirl – Personally, all that matters to me is where I can get the best quality of items for the cheapest amount.
Tabatha M – Oh wow, I never even though about the issue parents with more than one child would face, when trying to shop at the store. It’s good that there are a few stores that cater to you with larger carts for multiple seats, etc. but it’s something all stores should do if they want your business!
Vicki – I don’t usually have any issues at Walmart. Just the other day I price matched 20 deodorants and the cashier had no problem at all. Now, at Zellers, some cashiers have been fine and let me price match as much as I want, while others have told me that they will only allow 6 price matched items (for each item you want to price match).
Ashley – Omg, tell me about it (No Frills). The one near me is a zoo, no matter what time or day it is. Which is why I avoid that store like the plague (even though it’s right across the street from us). I’ve definetely been one of those people that has driven around for hours, to countless stores, trying to score every last deal. I am here to tell you that IT IS NOT WORTH IT!
Kelly – Yes, you ARE lucky. That’s alot of great stores all in one area. We have SDM, Walmart, Zellers, No Frills and Loblaws. I will go wherever the best sales are, but I will go to Walmart almost every week before of the ability to price match. Doesn’t it feel good to just buy what is the best deal for you and letting everything else go? It used to make me panic when I first starting doing that, but now it just feels so good. And yes, a fully stocked stockpile takes about a year to build up. I’m glad you are not trying to do it all super quick, because it just doesn’t work that way. 🙂
teachermum – Good idea to pick up Grandma on the way! If my mom lived closer, we would definetely consider that trick!
Best part is to go to walmart I have to drive past no frills, shoppers, Safeway and superstore! So shopping at multiple stores is easier for me, as they are on the same road anyway! So not too hard to pick up 1 or 2 things and go through the self check out!
If they’re on the way, then that’s great!
I do shop all the specials that I need. I use public transport and I have the time (retired). If I was using a car to get around I would shop at maybe two stores.
Sounds like you’ve got it figured out, Judith!