In Part I of this series I talked about how I was a “blind shopper”. I didn’t realize how much money I was spending because I didn’t understand how different factors influence how the stores price the merchandise. These things are sale cycles, seasonal items, and holidays.
- Sales Cycles – The majority of stores perform some sort of inventory or evaluation of how they are doing on a quarterly basis. This is to look at profitability or how certain departments are performing. Manufacturers also do this. If you start to really look at sales flyers you will notice that tends to be a trend as to when things like toilet paper and paper towels always go on sale for the lowest price. It is generally about every 13 weeks. I have really noticed this with other year-round items such as cereal, sodas, chips, and cheese.
- Seasonal Items and Holidays – When items go on sale or are at their lowest price is affected by the time of year or holidays. In the summer months you don’t see coupons or things like soup on sale very often. Those are winter items. So here is my list of what is usually on sale and when. This is strictly from my personal experience. I am sure there are other bloggers or writers who have a list, but I am giving you the Ann version.
- January: New Years Resolutions
- Diet foods (such as Slim-Fast, Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine), Peanut Butter, Jelly, Pasta, Pasta Sauce, Soup, Canned Beans, Canned Tomatoes, Canned Vegetables, Frozen Vegetables, Coffee, Tea, Oatmeal, Oranges, Grapefruit, Tangerines, Pears
- February: Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day
- Chips, Dips, Chocolate, Strawberries, Pasta, Pasta Sauce, Soup, Canned Beans, Canned Tomatoes, Canned Vegetables, Coffee, Tea, Oatmeal
- March: Frozen Foods Month, Easter, Passover
- Butter, Flour, Sugar, Baking Supplies, Pie Crust, Asparagus, Lamb, Ham, Canned Fruit, Eggs, Frozen Foods
- April: Easter, Passover, Earth Day
- Butter, Flour, Sugar, Baking Supplies, Pie Crust, Asparagus, Lamb, Ham, Canned Fruit, Eggs, Salad Dressing, Natural/Organic Products
- May: Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day
- Salad Dressing, Barbeque Sauce, Ketchup, Hot Dogs, Ground Beef, Strawberries, Asparagus, Taco Shells, Tortillas, Taco Seasoning, Meat Marinades, Steak Sauce, Steak, Pasta (for pasta salad, not spaghetti), Vegetable Dips, Mayonnaise
- June: Grilling/Picnic Season
- Salad Dressing, Barbeque Sauce, Ketchup, Hot Dogs, Ground Beef, Chicken, Meat Marinades, Steak Sauce, Steak, Pasta (for pasta salad, not spaghetti), Vegetable Dips, Mayonnaise, Strawberries, Blueberries, Melons
- July: Grilling/Picnic Season, Fourth of July
- Salad Dressing, Barbeque Sauce, Ketchup, Mustard, Mayonnaise, Hot Dogs, Ground Beef, Chicken, Meat Marinades, Steak Sauce, Vegetable Dips, Blueberries, Peaches, Plums, Strawberries, Nectarines, Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Tomatoes, Corn, Squash
- August: Grilling/Picnic Season, Back to School
- Salad Dressing, Barbeque Sauce, Ketchup, Mustard, Mayonnaise, Hot Dogs, Ground Beef, Chicken, Meat Marinades, Steak Sauce, Vegetable Dips, Blueberries, Peaches, Plums, Strawberries, Nectarines, Corn, Tomatoes, Squash, Peanut Butter, Jelly
- September: Back to School
- Peanut Butter, Jelly, Apples, Prepared Snacks (like granola bars and fruit snacks)
- October: Halloween
- Apples, Grapes, Pumpkins, Winter Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Pork, Canned Beans, Canned Tomatoes, Canned Vegetables, Canned Soups, Candy
- November: Thanksgiving
- Turkey, Apples, Pumpkins, Winter Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Pork, Canned Beans, Canned Tomatoes, Canned Vegetables, Cranberries, Stuffing, Celery, Baking Supplies
- December: Hanukah, Christmas, New Years Eve
- Oranges, Grapefruit, Tangerines, Pears, Baking Supplies, Rib Roast, Beef Tenderloin, Ham, Turkey, Dried Beans, Champagne, and Sparkling Cider
As you read over this list you may be thinking to yourself, I never realized that or put those things together. I have to admit when I was the “blind shopper” I didn’t think about it. But, it makes sense. It is Economics 101 – supply versus demand. When fresh produce is at its peak and very abundant, it is going to be less expensive.
This is not an all-inclusive list, and just because I have it listed as on sale for that month doesn’t mean that it is on sale for the entire month or the best ever price for that item. For example I have chocolate and strawberries listed as going on sale in February, that is because of Valentine’s Day. It will be much less expensive to buy boxes of chocolate on February 15th than on February 13th. The strawberries that you will see on sale in February are not going to be as inexpensive as the ones you will see on sale in May when they are at their peak for picking in Virginia.
It is traditional with lots of families to eat lamb for Passover or Easter and rib roast or beef tenderloin for Christmas or Hanukah. Thanksgiving and Turkey are almost synonymous. The week of the Super Bowl you will see lots of game day foods on sale like cocktail wieners, dips, and chips.
There are also certain foods that we prefer to eat depending on the weather and what is readily available. We eat more things like baked pastas, casseroles, soups, stews, and chili in the cooler months. In the warmer months we tend to eat more salads, grill out more, or have picnics.
I hope that you are able to see that when you start to realize the sale cycles and the best time of year to buy things you will become a better shopper and saver at the grocery store.
Please come back to read Part III – I plan to talk about establishing your price book and stockpiling