This week for the first time I was at Harris Teeter when the new sales week started, which included super double coupons. In the past, when there is a good sale or super double or triple coupons I will get the ad on Wednesday when it comes out and then start planning our sale. This usually results in a shopping trip later in the sales week. I usually sit down with the ad and my coupons. This method has worked fine but I wanted to try out being there when the sale begins, having a very specific game plan and the exact 20 coupons I planned to use already mapped out.
Wednesday when I arrived at our local Harris Teeter at 7:00 am it wasn't very crowded but there was the typical before work rush. Since I had my list from the Southern Savers site and already knew exactly what coupons I was using and came armed with a list of items that I wanted to check prices of since I have high value coupons. There are definitely advantage and disadvantages.
Advantages of Shopping Early
1. Less crowded. Being at the store at 7:00 am, the only other people I saw there were those running into the store before work and then other major couponers.
2. The major sale items, mainly those that end up free after coupons, were still in stock.
3. Couponers can be helpful. I helped another shopper who was also stocking up on yogurt by pointing out that some of them had expiration dates that were the next day and to be careful. While shopping another couponer offered her advice on which product on sale was the best buy with the coupon.
Disadvantages to Shopping Early
1. New sales tags aren't up yet. I don't know if it was just our store or if all stores are like this but when I arrived and began shopping the sales tags for this week were not up. Employees were in the process of putting them up on several aisles but for the most part I had to stick to my list from the Southern Savers site and the actual sales ad that I picked up on my way in.
2. Some items for the current sale have not been stocked yet. Ex: This week I wanted to purchase the chicken breasts that are B1G1. There was a sign up but no chicken. I asked an employee in the meat department if they were already out of chicken and was informed that they do not currently have any because it's on their delivery truck for that day and the truck has not arrived yet.
3. Extreme couponers can be SCARY. As I went down one aisle I came across a group of 5 women standing together mapping out their attack. They were talking and I went about my business and got my items. The entire time I could feel them watching me, like I was a spy. Then as I passed by one of the women eyed my cart and the items in it like she was a hunter. The message I got from her expression and the way she eyed my items was: what is she buying that we should be buying and she better not have all of the (insert sale item here)!
And for the second half...shopping the end of the sale. I went back to Harris Teeter on Monday around 10 am for one last trip.
Advantages to Shopping Late
1. The store wasn't filled with avid couponers. There were other people there shopping but there were a lot more just regular shoppers which meant less competition for the free or super cheap items that were left.
2. I had the opportunity between my first visit and planning for my second visit to get another paper with coupons (sadly it was a poor, poor coupon week) and received several coupons in the mail.
3. I had the opportunity to be much pickier about what I chose to use our coupons for. The first trip was about getting great deals along with the things that we were actually in need of such as meat, cheese, yogurt and so on. But having to get needed items also used some of the alloted 20 coupons that were allowed per day. The second time I did need about 5 items but everything else was because it was a great deal and was adding to our stockpile. 1st trip = necessities; 2nd trip = extras.
4. I was e-mailed additional e-VIC offers on Friday. They were good ONLY Friday - Tuesday and there was the e-VIC deal that was good on Saturday only.
Disadvantages to shopping Late
1. There were SEVERAL items that I wanted and the shelves were EMPTY!! No good. I could have gotten rain checks but the point of the second shopping trip was for extras entirely. If this had been my first trip of the week I would have utilized rain checks but that would have meant having to miss out on the Super Double portion unless the coupon was for less than $.99 and it will be doubled everyday.
2. Everything was picked over. Certain items were still on the shelf but only in specific varieties which were not necessarily the varieties of that product that we like.
Based on these observations from shopping both ends of the sale I have to say that from here on out I will probably go at both ends of the sale. The beginning, somewhat crowded and possibly not yet stocked has far more benefits than shopping at the end for me. However, the end of the sale has it's own perks, such as the special e-VIC sales that were e-mailed to me and only good for certain days at the end of the sale. Honestly, I think it really depends on what you need and are looking for. Personally, for us, I will shop the beginning of the sale and then if the e-mailed sales are good plan another trip back, or if the sale is that great then I will make two trips.