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How to Read a Grocery Store Sales Flier

Updated on July 29, 2007

This might seem like an easy task, but it is easier said than done. Especially when you consider that many times an item is listed in the sales flier, however it isn't on sale. That makes you rethink the sales flier doesn't it? Of course each store is different, but they all play the same tricks. They also generally follow the same rules in their ads. So let's talk about how best to read a grocery store sales flier.

The first and last pages are always going to be the best deals. These will always have loss leaders on them (although not everything will be a loss leader). A loss leader is an item that the grocery store will actually take a loss on by selling at that sales price, however they are doing so in hopes that because of the great deal, you will just do all of your shopping for the week at that one store. Keeping this in mind, you will want to concentrate your list on these two pages.

Whatever meat is listed on the front page is usually going to be your best deal of the week. Plan your menu accordingly, so that you can purchase your meat for the week at the lowest price out there. Any other items listed on the front page are going to be worth stocking up on generally. Of course using these other sale items in your menu plan for the week is a great idea as well. Sometimes though, it is health and beauty items, which of course you should take advantage of great deals on those, too, buy you can't eat them. The back page of a sales flier will generally have produce on it. Plan your produce for the week based on what is on the best sales on the back page.

When you open the sales flier, usually the meat sales will be on the next page. There could still be some really good sales here, so pay attention to the prices. Also pay attention to the fine print. The inside of the circulars have smaller and smaller items. Make sure you read everything and look at the pictures closely. You can usually count on the items shown in the picture being the exact ones on sale, but not always, so be prepared for that reality when you get to the store. It is frustrating though when the ad says that Daisy sour cream is on sale and shows a picture of regular sour cream, light sour cream and fat free sour cream. Then you get to the store and only the regular is on sale. The ad will usually say something like assorted varieties or varieties vary. Meaning you don't know until you get to the store which ones are on sale.

As you move through the pages of the sales ad, you will notice that it is divided up into sections; canned goods, refrigerated products, health and beauty, etc. This does make it easier to read. Knowing your prices though will help you to realize that the frozen pizza on sale 2 for $10 is not a very good deal though. Reading the sales fliers each week, this should trigger your memory of a couple of weeks ago when it was on sale for 3 for $10. That is a better deal, so you know that unless you absolutely need that item right then, you shouldn't buy it at that price. You know that it will be on a better sale again soon and you should just wait and stock up at that time.

Sales vary a ridiculous amount - from being listed on sale but actually still being full price - to being a loss leader, and of course everything in between. Reading the sales fliers carefully each week will get you familiar with the different sales offered on products, so you will know when a really good deal comes along. And when it comes along, you should stock up as much as possible to last until the next really good deal comes along. It won't be long; most sales run on 6 week cycles. Some items are on 3 week cycles and some are on 12 week cycles though. Over time you will start to realize which items seem to always be on a great sale and which items seem to rarely go on sale.

One of the tricks a grocery store sales flier will try to play is instead of listing the item $1 each, they list it 10 for $10. They are trying to get you to believe that you need to buy 10 of them to get the sale price. This is almost always not the case and you can treat these sales as if they were $1 per item sales. The same goes when something is listed 2 for $5, the items are really just $2.50 each and you can buy however many you would like.

Buy one get one free (B1G1) sales are confusing at times too. Sometimes the ad will state that you have to buy two to get the sale price. Many times though, you can purchase just one and get that item at half price. For perishable items that we won't use fast enough, I will take advantage of the half price on one. Know your options and if you aren't sure, just ask the clerk checking out your groceries.

Also know your coupons. Try to shop at a store that doubles coupons. Knowing your coupons will help you to read your sales flier better. All those products on the inside pages that are on sale, but not great deals can quickly become great deals when you have a coupon. A $.50 off coupon doubled, gives you $1 off of the item. This is why you should analyze your sales fliers carefully. I clip my coupons first and then go through the sales ad so that I have my coupons fresh in my mind while reviewing the ad.

It doesn't have to take very long to clip coupons and read sales fliers. I will always do this at night when I sit down to watch TV. It doesn't take long and is easy to do while following a show. I have two grocery stores in my town and I try to look at their ads at the same time. This way it is easy to compare the sale prices and I can tell the best place to purchase the items at.

I shop at two stores each week. They aren't close to each other, but I am always in the areas of town through out the week and it is easy for me to run in and pick up what I need. I have one store that I purchase most everything at and the other one I pick up the loss leaders and great sale items at. When I lived in CO the two stores I shopped at were right across the street from each other. I shopped once a week, but hit both stores quickly. On hot days I just threw a cooler in the trunk and put perishable stuff in there while I ran to the other store.

Being willing to shop at more than one store and comparing the sales fliers to each other will really save you money on your grocery bill. Try hard to read the sales fliers every week so that you are familiar with the great sales, the good sales and the not so good sales. Also get organized before you hit the store. There is nothing worse than standing in the middle of an aisle trying to read the sales flier and then trying to see if you have a coupon to match to it. Taking the time ahead of time will make your shopping experience easy and quick. Knowing how to read your sales flies will help you save the most money at the grocery store.


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      Amber 9 years ago

      Very smart! I will certainly be keeping this in mind while shopping. Also, I'll start clipping coupons. Thank you very much!!!