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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Getting Started At Publix


When I first went in a Publix store (long before I was a bargain hunter) I thought to myself "I'll never be able to afford anything in this store!" But since I started using coupons, I went from buying 10% of my groceries in Publix to buying 95%! And I walk away paying pennies on the dollars.

How do I do this?!? Well I am going to share my secrets with you!

It can be scary to start bargain shopping at a new store. The best thing you can do is educate yourself on all things Publix.

Getting Started

Publix is a grocery store based in the southern United States. There are stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Publix is one of the cleanest and most well maintained grocery stores I have ever shopped. (I have never been in a nasty Publix) Their store motto is "Where Shopping Is A Pleasure" and they operate by this motto. They go above and beyond making your experience a pleasure.

Publix's Weekly Sale

The first thing to do is to check the local sales paper. The sale runs Wednesday to Tuesday (unless you live in Florida and it runs Thursday to Wednesday). You can visit the Publix forum on Hot Coupon World for the current sales week thread. They have coupon match ups in the first post to help take the guess work out of it. Most Mondays the next weeks ad is posted ahead of time which is great because you have more time to find coupons!

Publix's Monthly Advantage Sales

Publix also runs 2 seperate sales that run approximately 4 weeks.

The first is Publix's Yellow Advantage Flyer. This sale is mainly food items and the sale runs from approximately the 6th of the month to the 5th of the following month. The flyer is usually released in the Sunday paper and you can also pick up multiple copies in the turnstyle (the rotating permanent display located either in the lobby or just inside the door). It includes a list of the items on sale as well as store coupons and manufacture coupons.

The second is Publix's Green Advantage Flyer. It is non food items and the sale runs from around the 20th of the month to the 19th of the next month. The flyer is usually released in the Sunday paper and you can also pick up multiple copies in the turnstyle (the rotating permanent display located either in the lobby or just inside the door). It includes a list of the items on sale as well as store coupons and manufacture coupons.

Publix's Penny Item

Located within your Sunday paper is a coupon for a mystery penny item at Publix. You must purchase at least $10 in groceries to be eligable for the penny item. This total is before coupons! You can purchase the penny item only on Sunday and Monday and it's limited to one per customer. You don't have to rush to the store to get the item. If they run out of stock they will substitute and sometimes the substituted product is better! There is a sign located on either their Sunday newspaper display or at the service desk that lists the week's penny item. Or you can check this thread each Sunday.

Using Coupons at Publix

In order to save the most money at Publix you need to combine sales with coupons and buy enough to last you from one sale to the next. Let's use Fruit Loops as an example. Fruit Loops are $4.29 a box at Publix. That's expensive! But when they are on sale buy one get one free (bogo) you get 2 boxes for $4.39. But it gets better... you can use coupons on both items! So say you are lucky and have two $1 coupons. You pay $1.15 for each box! But if you only bought 2 boxes during that sale and your kids eat them within a week (it's their favorite cereal after all) then you would pay $3.29 a box after your coupon. You want to try to avoid that!

The different coupons you can use at Publix

Manufacture coupons (also known as MFG coupons)

These are coupons you cut out of the Sunday paper, found in magazines, peeled off the product, found hanging on the product, found in a coupon machine in the store, etc etc. MFG coupon UPCs begin with either a 5 (which means it can be doubled) or a 9 (which will not double).

Printable Coupons

These are coupons you print at home directly from your computer. Some people print these coupons in color or black and white. Be sure to ask at your service desk if they accept printable coupons and if they have any limitations on what they accept. (Is black and white ok? Is there a limit on the $ amount?)

Store Coupons

These are coupons that are store specific. Publix store coupons usually do not have a barcode but have a LU # that the cashier has to type in. Most Publix's will allow you to combine a store coupon with a mfg coupon. (Be sure to ask about their specifications!) For example: On a box of Fruit Loops, I could use a $1 Publix store coupon and a $1 mfg coupon to get a total of $2 off one box of cereal. You can find store coupons 1. In the weekly flyer. 2. In the Yellow and Green Advantage Buy coupon booklets. 3. In the different magazines located in the turnstyle. 4. In the various coupon booklets Publix issues a year. (These are found in the turnstyle, in displays throughout the store, or in your Sunday paper.) 5. In the coupon inserts in the newspaper. 6. In the mail.

Purchase Off Coupons

These are coupons for a certain dollar amount off your total purchase at Publix. (They are often abbreviated as $/$$ coupons.) There are numerous ways to get these. Sometimes they are in the ad, mailed to you or found in coupon books you can purchase. These are either sold by the school for fundraisers (that's where I get mine) or they might be included in the Entertainment Book that is sold in your area. You can also check the trade forum on HCW for them. Most Publix's allow the $/$$ to be used first before all other coupons are applied. (I did have an issue using these in one store so always verify at the service desk before you start shopping at a new store.)

Competitor Coupons

Competitor coupons are store specific coupons for other stores. Some examples are Target printable coupons and Food Lion coupons. Each store specifies it's own competitors, so be sure to ask before you first shop. (My local stores take Winn Dixie, Food World, Brunos, Walgreens, CVS, and Target printable coupons.) My stores allow me to use a competitor coupon and a mfg coupon together. (You have to choose between using a store and mfg coupon together or a competitor and mfg coupon togehter. You can not use all 3 on one item.)

Double Coupons

Publix stores (NOT located in Florida) double mfg coupons up to and including 50c. So a 25c is doubled at the register to 50c. 50c is doubled to $1.00. A 55c coupon is redeemed at 55c. Only mfg coupons whose UPC number begins with a 5 will double.

The basics of a Publix sales flyer

You'll notice that Publix indicates beneath each item your savings. It will appear in green. You can use this to get a general estimate of your out of pocket costs. Sometimes it's lower, rarely is it higher.

Also beneath the title of the item that is on sale is a more detailed description. This will list what varieties and sizes are included and if any are excluded. Also note that on most items Quanity rights are reserved. You might also see a set limit on how many of an item/deal you can buy.

How a sales paper is laid out

The bottom left corner tells you the dates the sale is active. Always make sure to note the dates. When there is a holiday their sale can last as long as 10 days! .

The sale paper is always laid out in category order. The category of the page is located in a bubble at the top of the page.

It is important to be comfortable with how a sales paper is laid out. Also it will help you to quickly find out if your favorite items are on sale.

How do I know how good a deal is?

This is the hardest part of bargain hunting when you are first starting out. The longer you do this the better you will be at judging prices and deals.

You ideally want to stock up on enough to last you to the next sale. You also need to take in to account how much storage space you have and if your family will eat the item.

1. Don't buy more than you can eat before the item expires unless you have someone to share with or can donate it to a local shelter.

2. Don't stockpile a new food or flavor that you aren't positive your family will like. I've done this a few times and it's aggrivating.

3. Always check the expiration date when you are buying a large quanity of items. Don't buy many if they are close dated!

But how many do I buy?

Well how many Sunday papers are you buying? I suggest buying 4 copies of the Sunday paper if you don't have other sources. This would allow you to buy 2 sets of a BOGO deal. If you check the Publix sale paper on Wednesday then you might even be able to trade for as many as you need in time for the sale.

I've noticed that Publix always repeats a sale within 8 weeks. Some items repeat more frequently but a 2 month sale rotation is a good rule of thumb.

Off to the store I go...
(if you are taking your kids be sure to check the end of this section for tips)

So you've got your list, you've sorted your coupons and you are prepared to shop. Let's talk about some different things to consider.

What is a Publix store like?

When you first enter the store you are greeted by displays. The service desk might be to your left or your right.

Always look for the turnstyle. It might be in the lobby or right inside the front door. You will find extra copies of the weekly flyer, different coupon books, advantage flyers, extra coupons from in store sampling etc.

You are also welcome to bring your own reusable shopping bags to Publix or you can purchase theirs for 99c each. These hold so much!

Sometimes Publix will have tables set up with a collection of items that are on sale. They also have these items on the shelf in their regular location. I always pick mine up on the shelf first so I can pick from the different varieties without digging.

The sales should be tagged. If an item is on advantage buy it will have a orange price tag that says advantage buy and lists the dates of the sale.

Always note what price an item is! If you are charged wrong, Publix has a Price Right Guarantee. If during checkout, the scanned price of an item (excluding alcohol and tobacco products) exceeds the shelf price or advertised price, they will give the customer one of that item free. The remaining items will be charged at the lower price.

The item is out of stock

If an item is out of stock, Publix will gladly write you a rain check. Just visit the service desk on your way out the door. Make sure you ask them how long you have to use the rainchecks. One of my local stores have a 10 day policy. Other stores say you can use them whenever. When you are ready to use the raincheck just hand it to the cashier before she rings up the items.

How to hand over your coupons

I always give my $/$$ coupon first. If you give MFG coupons first and the total dips below the amount you need for your coupon sometimes cashiers might argue that you can't use it. I avoid this problem by giving $/$$ first. Then I give store and competitor coupons next because they have to seperate these from mfg coupons in their drawer and I like to make life easier on the cashier. I finish with mfg coupons.

The cashier will need an override if you have more coupons than items, which can happen if you are combining store coupons with manufacturer coupons. You can avoid this by either throwing in fillers (such as Ramen noodles, mini cereals, or other inexpensive items) or just make sure the number of items and coupons are equal.

I would suggest getting a feel for which cashiers are good at handling coupons and don't get flustered with multiple coupons.

Check your receipt after your purchase is finished.

1. Verify that all items rang up correctly

2. Verify that all coupons were subtracted at the end.

3. Verify that your penny item coupon took off the appropriate amount

So your kids are coming with you

Publix is very kid friendly. They provide car shopping carts at the entrance. They also have carts with built in car seats and one with an attached bench seat. Stop by the floral department for a free balloon (as long as their helium supply isn't low), the bakery for a free cookie and the deli for a free chicken finger! Finally on your way out ask for a free coloring book and crayons. Publix is very kid friendly!

Other ways to save at Publix

I highly recommend signing up for these programs:

Family Style
(Comes quarterly with store coupons. Issues in store do not include the store coupons.)

(Comes quarterly. It is an organic magazine and includes a mixture of mfg and store coupons. Issues in store also include the coupons.)

Publix Baby Club
(This is for infants 24 months or younger and expectant moms. They mail a welcome kit with a variety of awesome coupons as well as periodic coupons until the child is 24 months.)

Publix Preschool Pals
(This does not mail hardly any coupons but does send interesting trinkets for your preschooler. Starts at 2 years.)

This is a great program explained in length on the Publix website. To sign up, please click below!

UPromise College Dream Sweepstakes

The End!

So that covers everything! If you have any questions feel free to either ask them in the comments section or email me at Photobucket


Tabitha said...

i feel so enlightened! :)

Dianne said...

I just started shopping at Publix since I also always thought "Wow, they are too expensive for me!!" I found out some of the details you mentioned on another coupon blog, but this post of yours is by far the best introduction I have ever seen. You give sooooo many good tips and suggestions. Thank you very much for enlightening me about so many things! (Amongst other things, I never knew about the balloons or the chicken - I just knew about the cookies.) Thank you!!

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