Negotiate Better Prices on These 6 Grocery Store Buys


The idea of negotiating a lower price at the grocery store is often something shoppers shy away from. Whether it's the fear of rejection or embarrassment, negotiating is rarely used as a way to save money. Well, I'm here to tell you that if you know what grocery items to look for, and have the proper negotiating strategy in place, it can be successfully done. Here are some items worth negotiating, along with tips to make it happen.

1. Deli and Butcher Counter

Many shoppers are unaware that there exists great opportunities to negotiate a lower price at the deli and butcher counter. Always look for hams and roasts that are less than two pounds in size. These have typically been sliced from larger cuts and the remaining amount is often too small to prep for lunch meat, meaning they are hard to sell by themselves. So, politely ask the employee behind the counter if you can take it off their hands for a slight discount. I typically ask for 20% off and end up with a 10%–15% discount the majority of the time.

2. Fruits and Veggies

The single best way to negotiate a deal on fruit and veggies at the grocery store is to look for slightly damaged items and ask for a small discount. Maybe a bunch of bananas is slightly bruised, but it won't affect your fruit smoothie. Or maybe a head of lettuce is slightly wilted on the outside, but the leaves underneath are just fine. Politely start a conversation with the employee in the produce department, point out the defect, and ask for a slight discount. This always works better if you're buying a large quantity, as the employee will want to keep you happy.

Also, if you do the majority of your shopping at a single grocery store, try to build a relationship with the produce employees. They'll be able to tip you off to great deals, the freshest items, and upcoming sales — and be more willing to lower the price for you, too. (See also: 5 Off-Season Foods That Are Destroying Your Grocery Budget)

3. Wrongly Priced Items

Almost every grocery store has a section dedicated to clearance or marked-down items placed for a quick sale. Without fail, there are always items placed in this section that appear to still be marked at full price. This happened to me recently when I found some expensive K-Cups for my Keurig brewer on the clearance rack that were not marked down. On a hunch, I asked a nearby employee if they were actually on sale. He did a quick price scan and sure enough, they were incorrectly priced at full retail. He did a price adjustment for me, and I walked out of the store with a sweet deal. Now, I make it a habit to always check the clearance rack when I visit the grocery store.

4. Bakery Items

A great way to save money on cupcakes, cakes, and pastries is to look for items that are a day or two from the "sell by" date. Once you find these items, simply ask the employee if they'll be marked down soon, since they're nearing expiration. Instead of spending the time marking them down, often the employee will happily let them go to you now at a discount. If the employee doesn't volunteer an immediate discount, ask about the possibility of you taking them off their hands for 25% off. Keep in mind that, in the end, you're actually doing them a favor as it takes time to mark down these items and they run the risk of having to remove them from the store if unsold.

5. Meats

The biggest key to saving money is to know what day and time your grocery store marks down their meats that are nearing their "sell by" date. Most do it on weekdays before 10 a.m., but just ask and they'll happily tell you. Once you know, shop right after their markdowns and then ask for a quantity discount when buying multiple cuts. Remember, it's only a "sell by" date and not an expiration date. Plus, the cuts are still great for freezing and using later at a big discount.

The key to making this work is to politely ask for a discount when buying at least five or more items that are nearing their "sell by" date. Most butcher counters are happy to clear out these items at an extra 10%–15% off, as they want to get rid of them quickly before they take a loss on them.

6. Cases of Wine

My local grocery store will happily sell a case of wine, typically 12 bottles, for a discount. While I'm not a wine drinker, I've seen several customers get discounts in the 10%–15% off range by purchasing in bulk. The key to your success is to look for wine that may be overstocked, or on sale, as those are the vintages the store probably wants to clear out to make room for new inventory. If your grocery store denies a discount, check specialty stores like BevMo!, Total Wines, or a local beverage retailer. They'll usually happily offer you a case discount.

The keys to negotiating at the grocery store are always to be polite and have a friendly conversation rather than be demanding. Throw in a legitimate reason to ask for that discount, and you stand a great chance of saving money on your next trip.

How do you save money at the grocery store? Have you ever successfully negotiated a lower price?

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