Supermarket Reductions Tips & Tricks
It’s rare to find something that feels as good as a yellow sticker bargain, if you’ve got a large freezer then you can dine like a king for up to 75% off ticket price all the time.
There are three reasons why something gets reduced at a supermarket: either it has a short date, it’s superficially damaged (i.e dented tins) or it’s no longer being sold (a lot of the time this means seasonal items like advent calendars or Easter eggs).
Know when to find them
Reduction times are slightly different at every supermarket, but they tend to be at the same time every day, which is usually when you spot a crowd of people stalking a member of staff with a sticker printer around the shop.
As a rule, there are three reductions times a day, as you can see from this table from Money Saving Expert, it’s best to wait until late in the evening to bag your bargains. Watch out for items with two or three reduced stickers on top of each other, these are where you’ll find the best deals.
Real smart shoppers will know the exact days to go reduction hunting. If you find out when your local supermarket is closing for public holidays, when you go the day before it’s closed you’ll get the reductions for the day you’re there AND the reductions for the day the shop is closed.
Christmas eve is a particular goldmine, last year we picked up a huge turkey at a massively reduced price, and they start selling off all the pricey cheeseboards and chocolates because they know people don’t like to go shopping in the few day after Christmas.
Know where to find them
Most supermarkets have a designated ‘Reduced’ section somewhere in the refrigerated aisles (it’s usually the one with a crowd of people around it), but there are often separate sections for bakery and fruit and veg reductions, as these usually have a short life. In addition to this a lot of the time supermarket staff will spot things with a short date, reduce it and leave it where it is, so a quick scan of all the fridges is definitely worth it.
The general rule is, if something doesn’t have a long shelf life then it’s going to be reduced, so it’s worth a quick check of all the areas of the shop where these items are.
Reduced check list
‘Main’ refrigerated reduced section
Fruit and veg reduced section
Bakery reduced section
Seasonal aisle (especially if post Christmas, Valentines, Easter or Halloween)
Chilled ready meals
Damaged reduced section
The really great thing about daily reductions is that a lot of the time the offers that were on them before never get removed. We’ve got it on good authority that items in the Tesco three for £10 meat deal sometimes still get that discount taken off the price even when the three meats are reduced.
Obviously your mileage may vary, but it can be a great way to get extra bargains. Remember that coupons usually will still work on reduced items as well.
Are you going to use it?
When you catch a glimpse of a yellow sticker it’s easy to get carried away and buy everything in sight, but it’s a total waste of money buying that 75% off fish pie mix if you’re never going to make fish pie.
As a general rule we try not to buy items reduced by less than 50% unless they’re on our shopping list. A lot of the time 10% off isn’t worth having to eat a whole trifle in a day.
What to do with your reductions
Obviously you can’t really eat all of the reduced items you buy on the day of purchase, so choosing freezable items, and having ample freezer space is important.
Meat, bread, cakes, berries, most fresh herbs (inc. chillies), ready meals, pizzas and fish all freeze well, so you can buy them now, and throw them in the freezer until you want to eat them.
What doesn’t freeze well is more important to know, most “wet” fruit and veg freezes horribly, stuff like cucumbers, lettuce, raw potatoes, peppers, watermelon, apples and citrus fruit won’t be the same once you freeze it. You can get away with things like tomatoes, but only if you’re going to make a sauce or soup, they’re not going to be good in a salad. Dairy is also a bit iffy, cream, yogurt, custard, blocks of cheese, cream cheese, and eggs in their shells will probably separate when you defrost them.
Scan like a professional
If you’re using self checkouts be careful to scan the correct reduced barcodes. The stickers can be in the wrong place so it’s something to watch out for. If you’re going through the normal checkouts watch the screen, as sometimes even the checkout staff miss this.