- Personal Finance
What Is A Loss Leader? Shopping The Grocery Store Sales
When I hear about one of the best ways to save money at the grocery store, one of the frequent things I hear is to shop the loss leaders. This seems like a great idea, but what is a loss leader and how do I shop them?
A loss leader is a sale the grocery store runs that they technically take a loss on each time they sell it. Why do they sell things at a loss though? The grocery stores are hoping that when you walk through the door to purchase the loss leaders that you will just do all of your shopping there - or at least pick up other items at full price. The grocery stores are assuming that in the end, they won't be taking an overall loss, because once they can get you through the door, you usually buy.
We all tend to over buy at the grocery store. Most people do not shop with a list and many people buy items they hadn't planned on once they are in the store. A run for a gallon of milk turns into a $30 shopping trip for many people. Shopping with a list is the first thing a person can do to save money at the grocery store.
When you go through the sale ads each week, you should try to spot the loss leaders. These items will typically be on the first or last page. Produce is usually on the last page and the other items will be listed on the front. Items that appear to be the lowest price you have seen in a very long time - are probably being sold at a loss that week. These are the items that you should stock up on each week.
I have two grocery stores I shop at. I do my main shopping at one each week and I shop the loss leaders at the other. The second store is more expensive overall, so I really stick to the loss leaders or great sales when I go in there. I don't always go to the second store. I only go if the sales are great and there are loss leaders that I need or will use. That is important, just because it is a loss leader does NOT mean you should buy it. Do not buy anything, no matter how great the sale, if you won't use it. That is a waste of money.
When a person goes into a store for only the loss leaders, it is called cherry picking. In order to save the most money, you need to be very good at cherry picking. Make your list carefully, and stick to it once you are at the store. Cherry picking at more expensive stores is a great way to save money and get fantastic deals. Of course your regular store offers loss leaders as well, so stock up on those items you need when you do your regular shopping trip.
If you pay attention to prices and sale ads, it won't take you long to figure out the loss leaders each week. Then you can take full advantage of these great sales. But remember, if you are cherry picking the loss leaders at a more expensive store than you usually shop at, DON'T do all of your shopping there, because you probably won't be saving any money in the end. Good luck and shop smart!