Does it matter where you grocery shop? I mean, aren't all stores basically the same? No, they aren't. In fact, there can be a huge range of pricing for the very same item in a number of stores. Where you shop can save you money.
But did you know that shopping at the same store can also reduce your grocery bill week after week? Familiarity can breed contempt — but I prefer when it saves me some coin.
Here are some benefits you can gain from shopping at the same store:
1. You get to know the patterns on pricing.
When you shop the same store, you become familiar with their sale patterns, as well as when they put things on markdown. This knowledge allows you to strategize when you will shop and what you'll focus your grocery budget on.
As you know, I love to shop at Costco. Over time I've learned when they'll offer great prices on seasonal items. I can also gauge a great price on certain items after repeated purchases.
2. You know that place like the back of your hand.
I have two Trader Joe's in my town. I know one's floor plan as if it were my own home. That's the store I shop at. I know where things are located so I can get in and out quickly. Time is money, after all.
But I also know which aisles to avoid — you know, those aisles that will suck me into buying "fun food" instead of the things we really need. In a new-to-me store, I tend to wander and "discover" things I probably don't need. That is fun while traveling, but in my everyday life it can cost me a chunk of change.
Knowing my store's layout saves me money in more ways than one.
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3. You know where the best selection is.
Believe it or not, all stores within the same chain are not created equal. Their stock is based on the local demographics and what competing nearby stores carry. One Trader Joe's carries organic apples but is always out of coconut milk. I have the opposite experience at the other store.
My local Ralphs stores (I have one store two miles from my home in each direction) vary greatly in what they carry. One has an amazingly clean and bright store while the other rocks the selection of wines, coffee, and cheese. When I want just the basics, I go to the first; when I'm indulging my vices, I go to the latter.
4. Everyone knows your name.
When you repeatedly shop at the same store, you get to know the staff. They recognize your face, even if they don't really know your name. Clerks who I've gotten to know over the last few years offer me extra coupons and let me know about special deals on the clearance rack. Sometimes you gotta go where folks will give you the benefit of the doubt and look out for you.
Shopping at the same stores repeatedly helps you get to know the floor plan, but it also helps you be more comfortable during the shopping trip. If something is always foreign to me, I have to spend more mental energy to find what I need at a good price. Returning to a favorite store each week helps me save money and enjoy the process.
Do you know your store? How does it make shopping easier? More importantly, does it save you money?