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Whether you need to buy in bulk for household items or want to get the things on your shopping list crossed off, big box stores are great places to shop. However, they have a reputation for driving out local competition, and their business tactics could be better.
Fortunately, there are ways to enhance the value of your favorite store without jeopardizing the livelihood of local small companies.
Know What You Want
When shopping at big box stores, you’ll likely find the best deals on items that can be purchased in bulk. That’s the benefit of these discount retailers, but knowing what you want is essential before hitting the store. Purchasing unnecessary products can lead to food waste (like 5 pounds of bananas your family will not consume in a few days), or impulse buys that will take up space in your home, like a new pair of shoes or a soda can.
Warehouse stores usually offer money-saving options on non-perishables such as laundry detergent, toiletries, and diapers. They also carry brand-name items at a fraction of their regular retail price. Those savings add up quickly.
If you’re a big enough fan of an item to buy at Target, you can save even more by using coupon apps to search for the best possible deal. These programs help shoppers sift through the many online deals to get the best prices and save on everything from electronics to apparel to household goods.
Shoppers looking for a bargain can also save by planning their purchases when specific items are marked down. For example, clothing is typically discounted once a season changes. If you’re hunting for a coat, wait until it gets colder and then hit your favorite big-box discount retailer to score the best deals.
Know Where to Shop
Knowing where to shop is the key to saving money at big box stores. Many retailers place the most expensive items at eye level, so savvy shoppers should always browse the top and bottom shelves. Also, many retailers offer free samples of products like crackers and deli meats. While these samples are tempting, a taste test by Consumer Report found that most store brands taste just as good and cost less.
Another way to save money at your favorite supermarket is to avoid purchasing non-perishables in quantity, such as paper goods or large bags of frozen chicken wings. Instead, buy the items your family or household will use and purchase in smaller sizes. This way, you’re not paying for a large volume that will go bad before you can use it all.
Another trick to save at big-box retailers is knowing the hidden fees. Some retailers include a handling charge or even a delivery fee to the store. These additional expenditures might soon build up and cost you more than anticipated.
Know When to Shop
The time of year you shop is also a factor in saving money. Certain items get swapped out as the seasons change, so wait until those things are being cleared off the shelves before heading to a big-box store to look for deals. For example, you can often find summer apparel marked down in August and back-to-school supplies in October. You’ll also find some significant savings around the holidays.
If you have a membership to a retailer, it can help to know when the store is set to offer discounts to its members. For example, they usually have their member sales around the first Monday or Thursday of the month. Knowing when these events will happen allows you to plan your purchases.
Another way to save money when shopping at a big-box store is to avoid purchasing items that you could get cheaper elsewhere. Many stores put expensive, name-brand products at eye level, making it easy to be tempted into spending more than needed. Instead, look at the bottom or top of the shelves for generic brands that taste and feel the same.
Finally, consider visiting during off hours if you’re shopping at your local big-box store. Not only will you find the best prices, but it’ll be less crowded and easier to move through the aisles.
Know How to Shop
Free-market capitalism allows consumers to stretch their budgets with some easy strategies. Saving money doesn’t require a lot of expertise or specialized training; it simply involves buying less stuff. Big box stores often offer deals shoppers need help finding elsewhere. However, it’s easy to overspend at these retailers without realizing it. This can result in food waste (if you buy too many bulk perishables) or impulse purchases that take up pantry space but are never used.
If you plan to spend much at your favorite big box store, consider signing up for a loyalty program. These programs typically cost a few dollars to join but could save you cash in the long run. Also, check out return policies before making a significant purchase. If a retailer still needs your desired item, try online options.