It’s hard to believe it has already been a month since my last installment of What to Expect from Couponing, but here we are a month older and hopefully a month wiser! May is a great month for couponers. Although a bit premature in some parts of the country this year, it’s the unofficial launch of the summer shopping season. The summer shopping season is definitely polar for couponers. By the time July rolls around, we will hear the beginning of the grumblings about “no food coupons in the paper”. On the other hand, tried and true couponers will take advantage of the summer months to live off of their food stockpile while continuing to add to their personal care items as well as condiments. By the time September hits and families start staying home and eating more, they will have depleted the food staples to the point they are ready to re-stock. It’s almost like natural selection in the couponing world.
The produce department is in full swing at this time of the year. Strawberries have left Florida and the stores are beginning to market the sweet California strawberries that will carry them through the summer. In addition, cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon will start taking up more prominent space in the produce rack. As summer gets close, you will see big deals on jumbo baking potatoes, cherry & grape tomatoes, kiwi, lemons, limes and the other things that mark the warmer season. You won’t see the best deals and quality on soft fruits until a week or two before July 4th. Pay attention to hot sales on bagged salad mixes and loose leaf lettuce. During this time of year, the stores will run hot sales on the different varieties of lettuce. People eat lighter in the summer, so a good produce operation should thrive.
The deli will be buzzing with deals on fresh cold cuts and cheese for picnics as well as their pre-made refrigerated salads and slaws. In addition, the 8 piece fried chicken satchels will become the number 1 selling item in every deli steam line. In our stores we have already seen the lines form as people are waiting for fresh chicken to emerge from the deep fryer. With families on the go and eating at home less, the deli will also experience some good sales growth during the summer months.
The seafood department will continue to stay the course. Many people will look for in-season seafood as a way to keep meals light and healthy. You can be guaranteed that your store will have a different featured shrimp every week. When it comes to fish, the usual suspects will dominate most fish frys: Catfish and Tilapia. This is also the time of year we are able to take advantage of wild caught, never frozen Red Sockeye Salmon. There will be other hot deals, but for all practical purposes, the seafood department will pretty much just stay consistent. Nothing too exciting, nothing too boring, just reliable like a good Golden Retriever.
The meat department has finally made it to grilling season! The fresh meat case will sell nearly everything it merchandises: chicken, turkey beef and pork. Ground products for burgers will be the bulk of the sales from the self-serve and frozen meat cases. However, the real deals will be found at the service meat case in most stores. The thick cut grilling stakes, gourmet burgers and marinated cuts of pork and chicken will be responsible for a good bit of the traffic in the meat department. Every week there will be a different steak on sale. Typically it will rotate between Strip, Ribeye, Sirloin and T-bone with Filet being mixed in on occasion. This is also a good time to remember to look for primal cuts of meat. If the meat department has Ribeye on sale, you can be sure that you can get the entire beef rib for $1.00-$2.00 less per pound and they will even cut it and package it for you however you like in most stores for no additional cost. In addition, shop smart at the meat counter. Added ingredients such as marinades and bacon wrapping add weight to the steak which means you are going to pay more. If you aren’t partial to a store’s marinade flavor, you are much better off buying your meat plain and doctoring it up yourself when you get home. This is HUGE profit for the meat department so you can be sure they will be tempting you with their siren song. Another way to save on meet is to check the beer aisle for coupons. If you are a beer drinker, you will find coupons on most brands that will save you between 5 and 10 dollars when paired with their beer product.
The dairy department will begin to sell more fruit juices and drinks as well as snack cups of pudding, gelatin and yogurt. Go-gurt will skyrocket to the top of this food category as moms want something for their kids on the go. You may see cottage cheese run on sale to compliment fresh strawberries and peaches as we head into summer as well. You may also find deals on gallon jugs of tea and “belly wash” in this department. You can also check your deli as this is a quick and easy grab on your way to your nice weather gatherings. Otherwise, nothing changes! It’s business as usual for a department that typically represents about 15% of total store sales.
The Frozen Food department will be crushing it. Ice Cream and whipped toppings lead the charge with pie crusts, frozen fruit and ice cream novelties following in close pursuit. Pre-made pies and cakes will also have good sales so be on the lookout for coupons that will score you single serve Edwards pie products for free or nearly free. We see it every year.
The bakery will also have moved into pie season. You will also see an abundance of pound cakes, angel food cakes and cream cakes to compliment the vast offerings of the produce department. In addition, you can plan on seeing big tables of patriotic cupcakes and coconut cakes as we get closer and closer to Memorial Day. Many stores will run loss leader pricing on these items just to get you used to the convenience of not having to make them yourself.
The grocery department is where it’s at! You will buy all of your condiments for an entire year over the next 2-3 months. We have already begun to see coupons show up in the newspaper inserts, but before then, you will be able to find hangtags, peelies, blinkies and tear pads out in full force. As with every other holiday, the marketing minds at these companies will be fighting tooth and nail for your business. If you are not brand loyal, you will be able to get even better deals. Things to be looking for are ketchup, mustard, pickles, peppers, mayo, bbq sauces and marinades. They all have relatively long shelf lives on them so you can safely stockpile them until this time next year. Be sure to check dates as you take the product from the shelves. If the stock crew is properly rotating the merchandise, you will want to grab yours from the back of the shelf as it will have the longest date on it.
In addition to the food deals, personal care items such as body wash, shampoo and deodorant can also be readily stockpiled during this time of year. The coupons for these items will be in the paper and the values tend to creep up. Make sure you are paying attention to your inserts. If you don’t see these things, look for a reputable clipping service online that will supplement your normal weekly coupons.
This is a fun time of year. I am interested in what you have learned between this time last year and the present day that will make you a more effective shopping going into the summer months! Feel free to leave you thoughts as a comment to this post so the other Wiz Kids can learn from you!
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