How to Calculate Maximum Savings: Supermarket Savvy
I, along with most savvy shoppers, check the unit price when I’m trying to score the best deal — you know, that little price on the shelf that tells you what you’re actually paying per pound or ounce or whatever “unit” makes sense for the product.
For example, if a 13.5-oz. box of cereal is on sale for $2.50 but the 24-oz. value size costs $4.25, which is the better bargain? If you were back in school, you’d have to take the price for each and divide it by the number of ounces to find out that, at 17.7 cents per ounce, the regularly priced value size is still a better deal than the smaller sized box (which clocks in at 18.5 cents per ounce on sale). When you’re in the store, however, that calculation is often already done for you on the shelf tag.
But it can be hard to spot. I live in Massachusetts, and here, it’s easy to locate the unit price on the shelf tag. I was just visiting my parents in Florida, though, and I asked my mom if she checks the unit pricing. She told me that where she shops, the unit pricing was hard to read and calculate. We stopped by her store, and sure enough, it was exactly like she said. The unit pricing was in tiny print, and the quantities were not uniform — sometimes the package would be in ounces but the shelf tag would be in pounds, for example. Not the most helpful.
As it turns out, how stores display unit pricing (or whether they even have to) is state regulated. While most major retailers offer some type of unit pricing regardless, only 19 states actually have regulations about how unit pricing is displayed — and it differs greatly between states. Regulations are stricter in Massachusetts, but they’re far more lax in Florida. Hence, the hard-to-read, confusing signs we found in my mom’s store.
But even if they’re hard to read, taking a moment to compare unit prices will result in getting the best deal — even if you have to whip out the calculator on your cellphone to do it!
Shop smart and save! Check out more tips on couponing and savvy shopping!