Let me explain about Australians shopping for groceries, and our options for saving money.
When I was a young child, fruit and vegetables were bought from a ‘Green Grocer’ and toilet paper, washing powder, cereals etc were bought from the general Grocery store.
Every suburb had at least one green grocer, a butcher and a bakery. There was a huge outcry when supermarkets first spread in the 1960s and began selling fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs and bread. A lot of corner stores and small businesses closed down. The grief continued when meat sales threatened the viability of butchers.
However when you come to Australia, you’ll see that fruit and vegetable stores (no longer called Green Grocers) are prevalent in our shopping centres despite the extensive range of foods in supermarkets.
Today shopping malls with Coles, Woolworths, IGA, Aldi and other supermarket chains also have specialist fruit and vegetable outlets (generally on the same floor level, and often right next door). Organic vegetables and fresh deliveries from farmer’s markets are a big drawcard for the smaller vendors.
Bakeries reinvented themselves and experienced a revival. Australians shopping for groceries have a lot of bakery chains to choose from, as well as independent bakers. And it actually surprises me how many butchers still operate in competition with supermarkets.
I recently visited a small town in Queensland, our large state in the north-east of Australia. In 2001 the shopping precinct in the town had two supermarkets, one bakery, three fruit and veg outlets and three butcher shops. I went shopping for groceries there quite often when I lived in the area.
During the past 15 years, one of the supermarkets closed down and the other expanded. Yet it still has the same baker. All three fruit and vegetable vendors remain. And to my astonishment, in 2016 it still boasts three butcher shops!
How We Save Money When Shopping For Groceries
Supermarkets offer special prices on a vast and diverse range of products every day of the year.
Supermarket chains run television and radio commercials featuring some of their best prices. Plus most bombard potential shoppers’ mailboxes with junk mail. Catalogues of current special prices can be 6 or 8 pages of popular products with significant savings.
But you don’t need to have a catalogue to be aware of the savings when shopping for groceries. Walk into Australian supermarkets like Coles, Woolworths and IGA and you’ll see special signs indicating the current deals. The general price is covered with a different coloured label showing the Special price – and the amount you’ll save by selecting it.
Specials can change monthly, weekly, or even daily, depending on where you shop.
I don’t think any grocery store or supermarket here offers ‘coupons’ for savings. Shoppers wishing to save money when shopping for groceries simply buy the specials. They purchase extras when the price is really good, and delay buying luxury items until their price drops.
Most Australian families are probably like mine when it comes to grocery shopping. I buy the big 24 or 30 toilet roll packs when they are discounted by 50%. I haven’t paid full price for a roll of toilet paper for at least 20 years.
You can buy half a dozen different bottles of jam (you call it jelly) when they are on special. Same with peanut butter. Pasta and pasta sauces. School snacks, cake mixes, ice cream tubs. Buy what’s cheapest on the day you’re shopping for groceries. Then store them in the pantry.
Lots of people purchase tissues, tampons, disposable nappies, hair dyes, shampoo and conditioner for significant savings and keep them tucked away until needed.
Anyone living in an Australian city or large town has access to a range of different outlets. So when shopping for groceries, we look for the specials on any given day. But even in a small town with one single IGA supermarket, for instance, there will be a constant range of weekly specials.
Shoppers at Coles and Woolworths supermarkets can use their sales docket to receive a small discount on fuel purchases from service stations linked with those outlets. But the saving is only minimal. It is not worth driving any distance to shop there.
In Australia, we don’t use coupons when shopping for groceries the way Americans do. Newspapers may feature advertisements about a grocery store’s specials. But I can’t recall having to tear a coupon from a newspaper when shopping for groceries in my local stores.