The mission of Grocery Shop for FREE at The Mart is to help you spend as little as possible on the things you need at Walmart.  While this blog focuses mainly on couponing, there are many other ways to save and to get the maximum amount for the money you spend.  To that end, we are starting a new series that will cover some of the non-coupon related things that will help you on your shopping trips.  I hope you enjoy these Walmart Shopping Secrets.

Recognizing Deceptive Pricing Tricks

One of the greatest things about my job is that I get to watch how prices fluctuate week to week at different stores.  Long-time readers probably know that my wife and I are brand-loyal to Coca Cola.  That means that we like to have a Coke with lunch (She likes Diet, I prefer Zero) and no other soft drink will do.  We aren’t interested in store-brands or Dr Pepper or Pepsi, just Coke.  So, as you might imagine, I know exactly how much Coke 2 liters are and who’s selling them the cheapest every week.

So a few weeks ago I went to my local Kroger to grab a 2 Liter for my wife because we had run out and was shocked to see the price, 3/$5.  Just in case you don’t follow Coke prices like I do, let me tell you, that’s ridiculously expensive.  If I have to pay more than a buck each I feel like I’ve failed as a frugal-living person.
[Tweet “Is Your Store Tricking You? How to Recognize Deceptive Pricing Tactics.”]
So I elected not to buy any and walked over to the Dollar General in the same parking lot and bought them there.  I don’t remember what I paid but it was more than a dollar.  (I’m not sure when dollar stores stopped selling things for a dollar but it was a sad day.)

So I just kind of filed that away and didn’t think about it again until I went back to the same Kroger the next week,  The 2 Liters were still 3/$5 but now if you bought 3 you got a 4th on FREE, essentially making the 4/$5.

So they jacked up the price to more than they have probably ever been in that store, just so the next week they could drop the price a little (still overpriced though) and their customers would feel like they were getting a bargain.

This deceptive pricing is far from unique and the biggest culprits are those 10/$10 sales that are always so popular.  It’s not uncommon for a can of tuna that is normally $.89 to go up to $1 just so it gets featured on the sale.  Everyone just assumes that because it’s on the sale, it must be a good deal and grab it without thinking.

These pricing fluctuations are why it is so important that you be diligent about knowing the rock-bottom prices of the 20-30 sku’s that you buy most often.  If you aren’t sure how to do that, please check out Dian’s Price Book Sheet and watch the short video explaining how to use it.

Actually, these sales and pricing techniques are a strong argument for always shopping at Walmart because you have a second price right in front of to compare it to.  So if Kroger puts their tuna on for $1 and Walmart has it for $.89, you can just buy Walmart’s and know you are getting the better deal.  If Walmart’s price is $1.17, you know Kroger’s price is better and you can price match to get it to the better price.

UPDATE: Of course, since this was written, Walmart has made shopping there even better with the new Savings Catcher app that automatically price matches your local stores.  I’ve written a ton about this so please click here to see everything we’ve said about the Walmart Savings Catcher program.