Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Grocery Shopping the Discount Store Way (Guest Post)

Discount stores are about to invade a vacant storefront near you. Grabbing up big-box retail spaces vacated by Blockbuster, Circuit City, Linens 'N Things and other dead or dying chains, these compact grocery stores are taking the opposite tact of ginormous supermarkets like Sam's Club and Costco, which average 46,000 square feet each. Reduced rents and changing consumer habits make it all possible.

Aldi Shoppingphoto © 2009 Liam Hughes | more info (via: Wylio)Save-A-Lot, Grocery Outlet and Aldi, are just three of the value-oriented chains filling smaller spaces with better prices. Averaging under 20,000 square feet, discount grocery stores are moving across the map. Aldi already has 1,100-plus stores in more than 30 states, with plans to open 80 to 100 more outlets this year. Save-A-Lot presently counts 1,200 outlets and anticipates doubling that number in the next five years. Grocery Outlet, a smaller chain, now has 150 stores in six Western states, and has announced it will add another 15 outlets in 2010. Sadly, Publix 1,035 stores can only be found in five states, but that could change with the success of the other downsized discount stores.

With any luck, one of these limited-assortment stores will soon come to a shopping center near you. Here are a six advantages of shopping at this new breed of grocery store.

1. Fewer Products Means Better Prices

A standard Save-A-Lot offers just 1,800 items -- 5 percent of the usual total. This minimalist offering reduces the required shelving, square footage and total overhead, a savings that's passed on to consumers.
Save a Lotphoto © 2010 Chedder Fish | more info (via: Wylio)
2. Private-Label Foods
Most of the stock is limited to generic packaged foods, with a few national brands offered at reasonable prices. Thanks to the recession, many consumers have had a chance to compare the two and realized there isn't much difference, except the discount of 30 to 50 percent.

3. Less Meat, More Room

Meat and produce sections, which take up a lot of floor space and cost more to maintain, are small enough to keep customers satisfied. You'll have less choices than at massive-selection stores grocery chains, but who needs 35 varieties of beef, other than a cow?

4. Bag Your Own
Many countries automatically assume shoppers will bag their own groceries without harmful effects. Once you get used to the process, you can tailor distribution to your own needs. Most importantly, no baggers means reduced overhead.

5. Less Impulse Buying
With fewer products and less aggressive in-store marketing, shoppers are less likely to buy a product impulsively. Read "Gotcha! 7 In-Store Grocery Advertising Techniques" to see how larger grocery stores are luring you into such purchases.

6. Faster Shopping
Without such vast expanses to traverse, you'll save time and shoe leather. While the exercise isn't bad, running around trying to find products can be a waste of time and energy.

Kate F. writes about frugal living topics, including shopping with grocery coupons, over at the Go Frugal blog on FreeShipping.org.

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