Which Grocery Store is Best for You?
Many shoppers love the convenience of one-stop shopping. The main reason that consumers prefer the one-stop experience is clear: They dislike going to multiple stores to find everything they need, especially when shopping for groceries. Current estimates suggest that the average person spends almost an hour in a grocery store during a single trip and as much as 60 hours a year buying food. Most of that time is spent trying to find specific products, comparing prices, window and impulse shopping, dealing with crowded lines or parking lots and visiting different stores to buy products not carried everywhere. Additionally, shoppers often waste time running back to a store or a different one on the same day after forgetting items from their grocery lists. With the following tips, you can find the best grocery store for your primary shopping needs and even learn some tricks to reduce the amount of time you spend at the store, use other stores as helpful supplemental resources and save money. The key to finding the best store is to look for one that offers you the majority of what you need in a pleasant way along with great products, the most savings and excellent customer service.
How to Choose the Best Store
Do you want to shop primarily at a large chain grocery store, big box grocery department or discount grocery store? For one-stop shopping, consider stores that save you time by offering additional services like pharmacy, vision, money order, check-cashing, lottery, cafe, Wi-Fi and gas station services. Also, consider all potential future shopping scenarios: Not every store offers motorized carts for customers with handicaps or short-term health problems, self-service machines for speedier small order checkout or convenient phone or online ordering and pickup/delivery. Check out local stores online, and set up a customer loyalty account at each store that you're considering to get a feel for the store's virtual services and savings perks. Read online reviews and ask members of your social networks for their opinions. Make certain that whatever store you pick offers at least in-store coupons and accepts manufacturer's coupons. Once you have a list of stores, it's time to go shopping!
The Checklist: What You Need to Find the Right Store
When trying out different places, always take those items that you plan to use on every major grocery run. This checklist serves as a reminder of things that can help make your first trip to a new grocery store a success:
- Grocery List - You obviously won't be able to spend a lot of time inspecting a store if you're struggling to remember the items you want to purchase.
- Coupons - Using coupons on the initial trip can help you better understand the store's coupon policy. Does the store double coupons or accept expired coupons? If so, what limitations exist?
- Loyalty card - Bringing the store's loyalty card the first time can help you learn how the program works and determine if the savings are worthwhile.
- Debit, Credit or EBT card - By picking a store that accepts debit, credit and SNAP and WIC EBT cards, you open up your payment options. You also won't have to worry about an additional disruption to your life if you one day need governmental assistance.
- Smartphone - Record your impressions. What do you like and dislike? Does the store carry most of the items you typically buy at affordable prices? Does the produce look fresh? Can you move around aisles with ease? Are the employees knowledgeable and friendly?
Questions and Answers:
The following information covers common questions that come up when someone tries to pick a primary grocery store. Hopefully this information can help you find the best one to meet your needs.
Q: Do all grocery stores match their competitor's pricing?
A: Large chain stores often price match, but smaller country and discount stores typically don't because they can't compete.
Q: What if the store doesn't have a product?
A: Many thrifty consumers shop at several grocery stores to get the best deals. The key to saving time is planning ahead. If you don't need an out-of-stock product immediately, ask for a rain check instead of running to another store that same day. For items that your store never carries, schedule a single day monthly that isn't your primary shopping day to visit only those stores and buy the products in bulk.
Q: What happens if I lose my loyalty card?
A: The best grocery stores allow you to provide your phone number to customer service to apply shopping credit to your account. You order a replacement card via phone or online customer service. Always ask the in-store representative to write down your card number so that you can continue to benefit and save on future purchases while waiting for the replacement card.
Q: Do I need my loyalty card at the store's gas station?
A: It depends on the store. The attendant might be able to pull up your information and apply gas credit, or the store might require that you use the card at the pump.
Q: Is self-service checkout easy?
A: Although all stores have different designs, you typically touch the screen to start, scan your loyalty card, scan and bag each product, scan any coupons and then make your payment.