January is a tough month, especially in Canada, not only because we’re right in the thick of winter, but also because reality hits when most families realize how much they may have overspent on Christmas gifts the previous month. Case in point? The third Monday of the month is known as “Blue Monday”, the saddest and most depressing day of the year. It’s said that on this day people are not only hit with freezing temperatures and drab and dull days, but also with all those never-ending Christmas bills that are starting to pile up. Then what better way to start the year right than to start thinking about ways to save, not only for next Christmas, but also as a way to get in the habit of doing it year round? A growing number of families are already implementing ways to save by getting in the habit of price-matching when shopping for groceries and other items— even big ticket items.
Price-matching is becoming increasingly popular amongst Canadians and it’s a great and easy way to save money, especially when purchasing basic items you do need to buy no matter what. If you shop for groceries in all the major grocery retailers in Canada you will often see the signs that read “We’ll beat any advertised price” or “We’ll match any price or give you a discount if you find the same item for less at another store.” This means that one retail outlet offers to sell you the exact same product and they will match a competitor’s lower advertised price. Some even go further and give you a discount on the already lowered price. Best Buy, for instance, will give you 10% off of the difference in price.
We spoke with Linda, a FreshCo cashier, and she says that presently if let’s say 20 customers visit the store at any given moment, “more than half of them would price-match. A lot of people are price-matching more to try to save money— especially on the produce and meat you can save, like, half the price. Because it’s cheaper in the other stores, so we price-match it.”
People are doing their homework, she says, spending some time and very carefully going over all the different flyers the night before and bringing every flyer the next morning to those stores that honour price-matching in order to take full advantage of all the savings when buying grocery rivals’ discounted items. Consumers, says Linda, are getting smarter, especially lately that “everything goes up in price so wherever you can save a bit, they use it. I do. I live in Ajax and I price-match at the Superstore.”
According to Statistics Canada, as of 2013 the average Canadian family spends about $6,000 a year in groceries— roughly about $500 a month. Price-matching can reduce substantially the amount spent on groceries (basic staples that consumers have to buy anyway and they’re not considered luxury items) and it can translate into significant savings for the average Canadian families.
According to a recent Financial Post article, “Canadians love flyers and the popularity of the paper variety endures despite this increasingly digital age. A survey of consumer habits by Toronto-based agency BrandSpark International found that 75% of Canadians look at grocery store flyers every week, compared with 60% of Americans. A whopping 90% of Canadians read merchant flyers on a regular basis, the study found.”
Everyone will end up with a different strategy when it comes to price-matching. Some people might go through the flyers and decide what to buy for the week according to what’s on sale. Others are a little more organized, like the woman featured in the Financial Post article, who organizes her choices into a master list, which includes regular staples and certain goods bought in bulk because of the deal, and who also keeps a record of the lowest sale prices in a log book. When she shops she sticks to the family’s preferred list of brands for many items.
Technology has also eased the way the average consumer searches the internet for deals: it’s not going through the flyers that are delivered to your door that’ll help consumers price-match but there are many money-saving websites that make it easier for people to not have to search endlessly for deals— websites such as SmartCanucks.ca, Save.ca, GroceryAlerts.ca and RedFlagDeals.ca, amongst the most popular. And price-matching is not limited to groceries alone: big box stores such as Best Buy, Walmart, Staples and Target all price-match anything from groceries and video games to big ticket items such as televisions, computers and all kinds of consumer electronics. So start doing your homework and hopefully next January won’t catch you by surprise in all sorts of consumer debt.