A man looks at frozen food items for sale at a dollar store on August 23, 2022 in Alhambra, California.
Frederick J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images
Among all the rising costs, skyrocketing grocery bills have been particularly painful.
Although the consumer price index, an inflation gauge that measures the cost of a broad basket of goods and services, began to ease as of the latest reading, food prices rose again, the US Labor Department reported.
Over the past year, food prices have increased by more than 10% overall. Egg prices alone have risen 60%, butter by more than 31% and lettuce by 25%, according to figures from the Labor Department through December.
As a result, consumers are looking for any — and all — ways to save. For some, that means shopping at their local dollar store.
Dollar stores are drawing in more grocery shoppers
Slowly but surely, discount dollar stores’ share of total grocery spending is rising, according to a recent report from Coresight Research. Already more than 1 in 5 consumers buy groceries at dollar stores, according to Coresight’s weekly US Consumer Tracker.
A separate study published in the American Journal of Public Health It also found that dollar stores were the fastest growing food retailer, as they are expanding at an unprecedented pace, especially in rural areas.
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Country’s leading category to woo buyers dollar general And dollar Tree— which owns Family Dollar — is adding stores and remodeling with more refrigeration units and expanding grocery offerings including healthier foods and fresh produce, Coresight reports.
“If the two retailers continue to improve the quality of their fresh food while maintaining the low prices associated with their brands, there is a high likelihood that this will strengthen their value proposition with their existing consumer base and attract new customers.” will also attract higher prices from retailers,” the report said.
‘It’s about stretching your dollar a little further’
DealNews consumer analyst Julie Ramhold said these days, shoppers are looking at alternatives, especially if it means better prices. “It’s about stretching your dollar a little further.”
However, the value isn’t always there, he added. Despite the name, “you’d be hard-pressed to find items that are only a dollar.” It is important to check the unit price and compare it with the offers at other stores, which include walmart And Trader Joe’s, Ramhold said.
Plus, groceries will still be smaller than those at a supermarket or warehouse club. For example, the selection of fruits and vegetables may be limited to more shelf-stable offerings such as bagged salad mixes and bananas, Ramhold said.
Plus, with less turnover, you’re more likely to get items near the expiration date. “It’s important to check ‘best by’ dates,” he cautioned.
To that end, Ramhold advises shoppers to focus on staples like rice, pasta and dried beans, which can be tailored to suit a variety of recipes and don’t cost a lot.
(“The Dollar Store Cookbook,” available on Amazon, has recipes that are mostly limited to such pantry-stable ingredients, including creamed tuna on toast made with canned tuna and cream of celery soup.)
Top Tips for Saving on Groceries
With food inflation persisting, savings experts share their top tips for spending less on groceries, no matter where you shop.
- Check out the sales. Generic brands can be 10% to 30% cheaper than their “premium” counterparts and just as good — but that’s not always the case. Well-known brands may offer higher-than-usual discounts to maintain loyalty, so it’s important to do price checks.
- Plan your meals. When you plan your meals in advance, you’re more likely to buy only what you need, says Lisa Thompson, savings expert at Coupons.com. If planning isn’t your thing, go shopping with at least a rough idea of what you’re cooking the week ahead to help you stay on track and avoid impulse purchases.
- buy in bulk. When it comes to the rest of the items on your list, you can save more by buying in bulk. Joining a wholesale club like Costco, Sam’s Club or BJ’s will get you the best price per unit on spices and non-perishable goods. Consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch advises, then, to keep your pantry organized, with foods nearing expiration so you know to cook or consume them before they go bad.
- Use a cash-back app. According to Ramhold, two of the most popular apps for earning cash back at stores are Ibotta and Checkout 51. A spokesperson told CNBC that the average Ibotta user earns between $10 and $20 a month, but more active users can earn $100 to $300 a month.
- Pay with the right card. While a general cash-back card such as the Citi Double Cash Card can earn you 2%, there are specific grocery rewards cards that can earn you up to 6% back at supermarkets nationwide, such as the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express. CNBC’s Select has a full roundup of the best cards for food shopping, along with APRs and annual fees.
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