Couponing 101: Stop & Shop
This is the first in a series of posts on how to successfully coupon and cut costs at different stores. The first store I'll cover is one of my all-time favorites as an extreme couponer: Stop 'n Shop. The chain is only in the Northeast, including New England, New York and New Jersey, so if this doesn't fit your locale, don't worry - there will be more store walkthroughs to come!
1. Coupon Policy
Coupon Policy: Most Stop and Shop stores will automatically double all coupons for values of 99 cents and under. Yes, "automatic" and "double" are two of a couponer's favorite words when combined. That means if you have a coupon for 50 cents off of a product, your actual savings at the register will be $1 off. Manufacturer's coupons for values over a dollar and free-item coupons are redeemable but not eligible for doubling.
Additionally, they allow "stacking" of one manufacturer's coupon as well as an in-store coupon, as long as the in-store coupon isn't for a specific type of product. That means if you have a coupon for Cheerios and there's an in-store coupon for cereals in general, you can use both.
2. Scan It!
By far my favorite part of shopping at Stop and Shop is a nifty little hand-held scanner that you can pick up by the entrance with a few grocery bags to scan your store purchases without ever having to wait in line! If you're like me, your least favorite part of grocery shopping is waiting in a long line, having to lug all your groceries onto the belt, and then squeeze them back into the cart. Scan It! saves you a long wait, lets you check prices as you go, and puts your cashier in a much better mood when you finally make your way up to pay!
What's great is that Stop and Shop offers special, exclusive and automatic savings off certain items that CAN be stacked with Manufacturer's coupons. These in-store discounts are a way of saying thanks to customers for using a service that I'm sure saves the store money and labor, and can save you quite a nice amount. I scored deals such as shredded cheese for 75 cents off, Tupperware bins for $1.50 off, etc..
Another nice perk of the Scan It! software is that you can easily add and remove items from your electronic cart, check prices, and view your total. Unfortunately, not all in-store discounts show up until you get to the register, and coupons must wait to be scanned until checkout. Still, I bought a cart full of groceries and my checkout time, including 20+ coupons, was under two minutes. The software is even offered on mobile, so you can download the app and scan groceries with your smartphone!
3. Weekly Circulars
The weekly circular, available both online and in-stores, reviews all the weekly savings you can find at your local Stop and Shop. This is a great chance to stock up on items that you know you'll be purchasing for a while to come. For example, this week my local store has Entanmann's baked goods, BOGO FREE (YUM!!), $5 off instantly with the purchase of $25 or more in participating P&G products, and Spice Islands spices for $1.50 off - just to name a few.
4. Weekly Specials
Found in the Weekly Circulars, these deals can save you some serious green, especially when combined with Scan It! rewards and Manufacturer's coupons. I shop strategically and rarely spend over $1 on any of the brand name items I purchase at Stop and Shop. Really, it takes some planning but it can be done and this store is very coupon friendly, so that makes things even easier!
Last but not least, Stop and Shop, like Kroger, offers rewards points towards savings at the gas pump. Participating Shell and Super Stop & Shop stations will give you 10 cents off per gallon for every 100 points you accumulate in Stop & Shops rewards. 1 point = $1 spent on groceries and other items. UPDATE: Thanks to a clarification from fellow Hubber and Stop & Shop employee, Bob Bamberg, I've been informed that points expire one month from the date they're EARNED. So, in other words, if you spend $10 on the 1st, that $10 expires 30 days later. Likewise, if you spend $10 in the middle of the month, those points will be good until 30 days later in the middle of next month. Thanks, Bob!