There is a specific reason for every sale, coupon, or other promotion. Understanding why these events take place can help you to save hundreds of dollars in your grocery shopping.

Often these events take place due to the products being seasonal. For example, it’s best not to buy fresh fruit and produce out of season. The price of a cup of fresh blueberries or a pound of asparagus is generally 3 – 5 times more expensive out of season than it is during its season. A better cost saving approach is to find fresh produce on sale and freeze, can, or otherwise preserve a “stockpile” of it for the off season months.

Holidays are another even where it is common to find specials on food and products. Turkey and ham are typically loss leaders at grocery stores for holiday shoppers, and those after Christmas clothing sales give great savings for gifts at other times of the year.

There are even other savings which may be a lot less obvious. For example, manufacturers purchase shelf space in your local grocery store. If they decide to offer a new product, they have two choices – either purchase more shelf space or reduce their product line in that store. Since self space is expensive, it more typical for manufacturers to sell out old items to make room for their new ones.

Here is a typical example of what happens. Ice-cream goes on sale at the end of winter to make space for new flavors and products which will be arriving for the warmer weather. Soup goes on sale at the end of summer, when again, the shelves need to be cleared for the fresh harvest and new products. If you take the time to consider these cycles and mark them down in your price book, you can take advantage of some great opportunities.

Does this sound complicated? Here’s a recent example and how you could have taken advantage of this:

Breyer’s, a popular U.S. ice-cream manufacturer, will be introducing new flavors and products this summer. In January/February, they introduced “in store” coupons (blinkies) of $1 on any one item. The retail price at the time they offered the coupons was $6 which meant a “fair” savings on the ice-cream. This might be were most people stop, but if you were aware of why this event was taking place, you would have noticed the following further savings.

Grocery stores that didn’t carry the $1 coupon had sales to compete with the stores that did have the coupon, with the price continuing to drop over a few weeks. At first it was 2/$9, then dropped further to 2/$7. The manufacturer’s coupon from the first store could be taken and used at the store having the sale price. A better savings than above, but you could still do better.

Once the coupon stock had been depleted, sale prices for the ice-cream decreased even more. Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) offers appeared. Any shopper who had held on to the coupons waiting for a better deal found it. But the prices didn’t stop falling at this point. It dropped even further to $1.50 a package making it only $0.50 with the coupon if it had been saved!

After the coupons expired, the price dropped further. The ice-cream eventually reached $10/10. While this is a good price without a coupon, it’s still double the price that could have been gotten with the coupon. Even so, the stores’ supplies were quickly exhausted at this price.

Why the huge discount? Breyer’s is redoing their packaging. Consumers don’t buy ice-cream in old packaging when new ice-cream in new packaging is clearly visible. New flavors and novelties also need shelf space. So those shelves had to be cleaned out of old product and to do so they needed to dramatically lower the prices.

The saving opportunities were not over for those who thought ahead. Once the product was out of stock, the sale price could be captured on a rain check! Why? Rain checks are basically a coupon for the sale price of a product advertised, but has run out. Rain checks typically don’t expire for one year. That 10/$10 pricing on a rain check will still be in effect when the new packages come out, along with new coupons introducing the new line!

The price of the new product will return to $6, or slightly higher! While everyone else is spending a fortune for the newest flavors, with the rain check you would only spend $1 each minus whatever coupons were available.

How can you find these savings in the future? Take the time to ask yourself why certain items are on sale. Pay attention to trends. Look for a reason that something has been discounted or promoted. Watch for the changes, and you can capture significant savings.

To learn more about specific sales cycles, by month, check our the Guide to Sales Cycles for Rock Bottom Prices

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