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Unit Pricing at The Grocery Shop

Bargain Hunting at the Grocery Store – How to price out individual items and why it works so well

People often take their bargain hunting skills and coupons to the grocery store, but what about when the store does the same for them? Some stores in Australia have elected to provide Grocery Unit Pricing, a breakdown of each element of the cost that goes into the item.

This means that items weighted in kg will provide a price per kg, items weighted by litre will provide a price by litre, and items measured by item # (example paper towel sheets) will provide a simple #.

Sample unit pricing for coffee grounds

$7.50 500 gram coffee = $1.50 per 100 grams

$9.50 750 gram coffee = $1.27 per 100 grams

This allows for easy price comparison.

The method really shows consumers the value of each brand in the store, and allows for easier price comparison. It pushes the onus for being a bargain back onto the manufacturer, away from the consumer themselves.

It should always be consulted, even if you have a favorite brand, because grocers often put items of different brands on specifically targeted sale (due to surplus or item expiry).

The only thing to be cautious of here is the fact that although unit pricing is great for displaying quantitative value, it’s not great for displaying qualitative value. For example, those paper towels may offer more sheets, but how does their absorbency hold up? It could still be worth it to spring for the one that’s a bit more costly, to get a more effective product. This is hardly a news flash, but should be kept in mind when operating off of unit pricing.

Another caution should be in regards to bulk buying that unit pricing can so easily encourage. If you’re getting a great deal, it’s easy to assume that buying more will result in a better advantage of that deal. Keep in mind though that some items do expire, some you may just get sick of, and some just simply won’t get entirely used. Make sure you have the storage to hold on to bigger items (like stocking up on toilet paper, which often comes in bulky packages) before you bulk up your bill.

Grocery bargain hunting is a great skill, and unit pricing really helps it along. I really hope that one day it’s entirely mandatory throughout Australia, as it is a huge help to shoppers everywhere.