Is Price Matching the New Couponing?

March 5, 2012

Or is it merely an extension of the concept?

Ages ago I had a coworker who would complain, good-naturedly, about his wife’s habit of going to 4 different stores to do her grocery shopping. He’d even chosen the phrase “the tuna run” because they drove to a particular store simply because that store was having a fabulous sale on tuna fish.

It’s no surprise he wondered if the gas they used going from store to store cost more than what she saved with these obstacle course-like trips.

And that was back when gas was still under $2 a gallon!

Oh, for those days…

But I digress. The point was, she was willing to go that extra mile to save her pennies, and many people do far more these days.

Back when I was first exposed to the Extreme Couponing phenomenon my biggest complaint was and still is that coupons are frequently for highly-processed convenience foods. Sure, we could use the occasional household goods coupons, but it certainly wasn’t worth our while when the majority of what we buy is fresh or frozen produce (without the instant sauces), meats that have been no more processed that a trip through the butcher’s table, and basic staples.

Now, though, I’ve come across something that might just fill the gap.

On Pinterest (it’s not just for decorating ideas) I noticed a friends pin on price-matching.

For those who aren’t instantly familiar, some stores (of which Wal-Mart is a shining example) will match the price of another store. While they may loose a small amount of the mark-up represented in the shelf price, it’s far better than having you go to another store and them losing out on the sale completely.

Apparently, this extends to groceries, too. Including produce and meat.

And all it takes to take advantage of this tactic, is a little homework.

Many grocery chains have a weekly sales flyer. Most of them also have this flyer available online so you don’t even have to subscribe to a mailing list or swing by every Tuesday or so when the ads come out. And since Wal-Mart, at least, doesn’t require you to have the advertisement on you to claim the lower price, all you need is the knowledge.

I shop at Wal-Mart on my weeks of kitchen duty. It’s not my first choice, honestly, as I prefer to aesthetic quality of shopping at Publix, but the receipts bear witness to the fact that I spend less at Wal-Mart. So, unless I need a specialty ingredient or am just swinging-in on my way home from work, Wal-Mart it is.

Across town, however, we have a Save-a-Lot and a Harvey’s, both known for deep discounts and pretty good sales. I’m not about to trek down there on the weekends, though, so price matching through their online ads allows me the savings without having to go to more than one store. I didn’t even check Winn-Dixie, come to think of it.

Something else I learned by doing my homework was that a lot of these store-sites have a “shopping list” feature where you can click on the items in the ad or drag them over and it puts your choices on a printable list. Just because you don’t need the ad, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt to have the prices at your fingertips–and only the ones that you need.

So this week was my test, just to see if it was really as easy as it seemed.

Turned out, of my shopping list this week there was only 1 thing I needed that I could price match, but all I did was speak up as the cashier was about to scan it and they changed the price with no problem.

The girl behind me asked “That really works?”

Apparently it does.

I didn’t cut my food bill in half this week–truth be told I saved a whopping $2–but the point is that it IS possible, it’s a lot less cumbersome than coupons, and the homework is a far sight simpler than the other way.

Has anyone else tried this? What were your experiences with it?

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