Picking up Nickels

Friday, December 18, 2009

Grocery price inflation update

I haven't looked at grocery price trends for about a year now, so it's about time for an annual update.

After checking out the numbers, I was pleased to see that our grocery spending through November 2009 has actually decreased by 13.6% over the same period last year, and in fact 2009 grocery spending is even down 3.7% from my 2006 levels!

Let's take a look at some of the reasons for the nice savings I've seen over the past year. Once again, I should note that my numbers reflect some pretty serious effort on my part to cut grocery spending:

  • In March I bought $1320 worth of Shaw's Supermarket gift cards for $1200 as part of their tax refund rewards program.
  • I spent about $38 acquiring coupons to cut grocery spending this year, as opposed to about $52 during the same period last year.
  • I've made much more use of printable coupons in 2009. I've found lots of great ones at sites like smartsource.com, redplum.com, kraftfoods.com, eatbetteramerica.com, coupons.com, and simpleanddelicious.com (to name a few).
  • Stores have been much more aggressive with sales and promotions, particularly with Catalina Marketing coupons that print out at the register and offer an incentive for your next purchase. For example, on Monday I bought the following items at Shaw's Supermarket for $1.64 out of pocket after sale prices, coupons, and the three "$5 off your next order" Catalina coupons that printed out after my purchase:

    • (1) 5lb bag of Gold Medal Flour
    • (2) boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
    • (2) boxes of Cocoa Puffs cereal
    • (6) cans of Green Giant vegetables
    • (1) box of Betty Crocker cake mix
    • (5) cans of Progresso soup
    • (2) boxes of Green Giant frozen vegetables
    • (3) bags of Green Giant Vally Fresh Steamers frozen vegetables
Even better, this savings has occurred despite a lousy yield from our garden due to the wet growing season we had, our not participating in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program this year, and stealth grocery price increases where package sizes shrunk yet continued to sell for the same price.

I have to admit that I've been very surprised by the amount of discounting I've seen over the past year. It appears that the economic downturn and resulting fall in commodity prices has really motivated producers and retailers to offer consumers nice discounts and incentives to shop in their stores and purchase their products. Hopefully the trend will continue over the next year and help everyone keep a few more bucks in their pockets during this recession.

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