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Friday, March 29, 2019

The Importance of Taking Advantage of Special Deals when the Grocery Budget is Small

A lot of grocery stores are adding service features to attract busy customers. One of the more recent additions to my local Fred Meyer (a Kroger affiliate) is a pick-up service. The customer places their order online, choosing the items, registering a form of payment, loading any e-coupons, and selecting a pick-up time window. Normally, there is a service fee for this shopping option. At Fred Meyer, it's $4.95 per shopping pick-up. When the time window opens, the customer shows up in the parking lot of the store, parking in a special section of stalls, follows the instructions to phone in their arrival, then waits until the attendant brings the groceries to their car. The customer gets a moment to review the order and prices charged (ensuring that e-coupons were applied) and hand-delivers any paper coupons to the attendant. If all is well, the groceries are loaded into the car and the customer drives off.

For an introductory period, Fred Meyer is waiving the $4.95 service fee for a customer's first 3 pick-ups, and offering exclusive grocery coupons for Pick-up orders only. I had seen these coupons in the digital coupon list on Fred Meyer's site, but mostly ignored them, as I like to browse the store for the non-advertised markdowns. However, this month, I stumbled across a coupon that I couldn't pass up. It was for 4-lbs of sugar at 99 cents each, limit of 5. This is half the price that I had planned on paying using the Senior Discount, and the volume of sugar sounds like enough to stretch through 3 months of scratch cooking and baking for my household. I thought about how I could arrange my errands so that this would not be out of the way or use additional gas for the car. It sounded like it would be doable. So, I proceeded with the online order. You need to understand that I don't like trying new things, especially when any sort of technology might be involved. But I did this anyway. Unless I come across another great coupon, this may be the least expensive sugar that I buy any time in the near future.

There were several other good-sounding e-coupons on Fred Meyer's website that I could have used in this Pick-up order. Just nothing else that fit my needs for this moment. To give you an ida of what else FM is offering in these exclusive Pick-up order coupons, boneless, skinless chicken breasts @ $1.49/lb (limit 5 packages, each package about 5 lbs), 24 oz packages of individual string cheese @ $3.99 -- that's $2.66/lb for individually-wrapped string cheese (limit 5), and 32 oz. bags of frozen potato products, like tater tots, and shoestring fries, @ 99 cents (limit 5). For my budget, if there had been more room for meat purchases this month, I would have jumped on the chicken breasts. The other items just wouldn't be in my small budget. However, the sugar is a staple, something that is on my list, and at a price that won't be easily found soon. If it hadn't been for this deal, I would have bought 2 4-lb bags and had to work to make them stretch.

Another special deal that I came across involved answering a customer feedback survey. I had purchased 2 $5 gift cards to Dairy Queen, for my daughters' birthday, so they can go out for a treat together sometime this summer. On the receipt for the gift card purchase was a survey request, which would result in a coupon for a free ice cream bar upon completion. I answered the survey and now have a coupon to use for a free item in the next few weeks. At the same time that I picked up the DQ gift cards, I also bought 2 $5 gift cards to McDonalds, again so my daughters could go out together sometime for a treat. With this gift card purchase, I received not one survey request, but three survey requests on the various receipts. I answered these surveys and received coupon codes for 3 sandwich deals (buy 1 get 1 free). On such a tight budget, I'm not sure that we'll use the McDonald's coupons (since you have to spend to get the freebie), but the DQ coupon is valuable for a free treat for someone who needs a pick-me-up. This is an ice cream bar that would otherwise not be affordable.

These special deals are usually limited. When I saw the Fred Meyer Pick-up coupon, I knew that this was an introductory come-on to attract customer attention. For the time being, I am making every dollar count. In order to fulfill as many of my shopping list items as possible, I need to go a little bit out of my way to snag the deals. I'm probably not the ideal customer for Fred Meyer. I use the Senior Discount Day to buy only the items that are least expensive using the discount, compared to shopping any other place. I don't fill my cart with the rest of the items (at a higher price) from my overall shopping list. I won't be a loyal Pick-up service shopper once the special deals and introductory free service expires. Instead, I'll keep looking out for the next avenue toward deals, as I make my grocery budget stretch as much as possible.

How about you? Do your grocery stores offer pick-up service, and do they also have exclusive coupons for Pick-up customers, only?


  1. We have Kroger (which I believe owns Fred Meyer). I've not paid much attention to the pick-up coupons either, until they had whole fryers for 59 cents a pound.That's a terrific price here, so I went for it. (I find it interesting that the sugar was a pick-up coupon. This week, Kroger has 4lb of sugar for 99 cents with the loyalty card. No coupons needed.)

    1. Hi there,
      Oh, 59 cents/ lb for a whole chicken is a pretty good deal! That's odd that you got the sugar coupon good in-store, while our area had to use Pick-up. But I'm glad that worked out that way for you!

  2. That's a steep cost, $4.95, per shopping order. It would be a great service for the elderly and disabled, along with uber delivery. I don't like internet order/store pick up, in general, because of the snags. I like to check the expiration dates and condition of the merchandise. I then run into problems making a return, for example Wal-Mart, the entire sales tax was not refunded. I don't find I save any amount of time shopping this way. For those who are not fussy bean counters like me, it may be a good option. Like you, Lili, I would do it just to take advantage of a promo deal. Recently, Safeway had some free jam and salsa coupons which I used, and unfortunately because I was in a rush, I bought nothing else. I know that was a complete loss for the store, but in terms of loyalty it gained a few notches.

    Have a nice weekend,

    1. Hi YHF,
      Yeah, I think $4.95 is kind of expensive for a service charge. There are a few scenarios where it could be a good deal, though, such as if you would otherwise have to take time out of work to shop, reducing your wages by 1 hour's pay. This sort of service would be great for someone who can't walk through the store, or is immune-suppressed and doesn't want the exposure from being inside a crowded environment. It could also work well for having someone else pick up an order that you placed. Then you know you're getting exactly what you wanted.

      Oooh, free jam and salsa! That sounds like a good deal. I go into stores all of the time and only buy the loss-leader deal or get a freebie. It's the smart fish analogy -- if a fish can manage to get the worm off of the hook without getting hooked himself, then he's allowed to eat that worm. He's the smart fish who doesn't get hooked. If a shopper sees a great deal or freebie, they're under no obligation to buy over-priced items in the store to compensate for the freebie or loss-leader that they came for.


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