Entries in Grocery Shopping (4)


5 Grocery Shopping Apps That Can Save You Time and Money

Jupiterimages/Pixland/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The editors of Consumer Reports’ ShopSmart magazine took the time to test and try different programs and separated the good from the bad.

"Download a few convenient apps that can help you save big on the things you need the most," advised editor-in-chief Lisa Lee Freeman.

Here are some favorites from the magazine's recommendations:

1. ZipList
A startling number of people still don't make a list before they shop, even though study after study shows it saves you money by helping avoid impulse buys. This Apple and Android app creates a master list of groceries you buy over and over again, so you only have to do it once. It even organizes the list according to the aisle-by-aisle layout of participating stores.

2. Weekly Ads & Sales
Planning your menus around what's on sale in the supermarket circulars is another huge money saver, but some people can't stand all that paper pushing. This Apple app puts those circulars in electronic form. ShopSmart liked that it covers big grocery chains like Safeway and Kroger but also specialty chains like Old Navy and Best Buy.

3. Grocery iQ
Ever get that sinking feeling at checkout when the clerk asks if you have any coupons and --doh!-- you wonder if there are any good ones for the items you just loaded on the belt? This Android and Apple app finds coupons for the things on your list. ShopSmart found it works best for repeat purchases that you tend to buy every week.

4. SavingStar
Are you a guerilla grocery shopper who hunts down the very best deals at multiple markets? This app, which works on Apple, Android and Blackberry allows you to register all your loyalty cards. You're then given exclusive offers, such as $5 off of $30 spent on Charmin, Gilette or Ivory products. ShopSmart liked what's called the "One or Many" feature which lets you buy items over multiple trips to hit the quantities required for maximum savings.

5. Cellfire
Here's an app that sort of idiot-proofs your grocery shopping, even if you have no list, no circulars and no plan. Sign up via Apple, Android or Blackberry and it zings coupons directly to your loyalty cards. When you scan your card or put in your phone number at checkout, relevant coupons are waiting. There's also a store alert feature which can remind you about available coupons as you walk into the store!

To see more recommended supermarket shopping and coupon apps, check out the September 2013 issue of ShopSmart magazine, available now.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Self-Checkout Technology Reduces Theft

George Doyle/Stoc​kbyte(NEW YORK) -- While some grocery chains like Big Y and Kroger have done away with self-checkout lanes, other retailers have welcomed them in — but with a bit of added security, thanks to a software program that analyzes store video and tracks theft.

Scan-It-All is a video recognition technology that’s automated to analyze a retail store’s security videos in real time. It works by comparing the number of items a customer has in the cart with the number of items being scanned.

“It can see the customer has five items but has only rung up three of them,” said the program’s creator Malay Kundu, also the founder and CEO of StopLift Checkout Vision Systems. “We just make sure people aren’t stealing.”

When an incident occurs, the program immediately notes the transaction and alerts a store employee.

Kundu, who created Scan-It-All nearly three years ago, said his program was watching thousands of checkout lanes across the U.S. and that he’d seen a sharp increase in retailers demanding his technology.

As retailers are ushering in self-checkout stations to reduce labor costs, he said, they are finding themselves faced with the possibility of increased thefts.

“We do see as much as five times the rate of loss [including theft] at self-checking,” as compared to stations where there are cashiers, he said.

Last week, law enforcement in New Jersey ended a multistate theft ring that led to more than $100,000 in losses at about 70 Home Depot stores from New York to Virginia. The thefts allegedly occurred at self-checkout lanes as the thieves scanned cheap items and bagged the more expensive ones, despite the presence of attendants.

Kundu said that most retailers hired employees to staff self-checkout lanes for customer service purposes.  But if an attendant is helping one customer, he said, that leaves the other customers to ring up their items without being watched.

“It’s one step beyond saying ‘Let’s use the honor code,’” he said of self-checkout. “No one is necessarily watching.”

According to Scan-It-All’s online tally, it has recorded nearly half-a-million cases of scan avoidance — among staffed and self-checkout stations — over the last three years.

Kundu said customers usually managed to avoid scanning by leaving items in carts, weighing items by the pound though they had individual price tags, and by “sweethearting,” in which customers and cashiers don’t scan the item at all.

“It’s not always the really expensive item,” he said. “We see people [stealing] random items just because they can.”

In an email, Home Depot said it could not “get into that level of detail about our security measures” when asked whether it used a program similar to Scan-It-All. But the company said it would not be removing its self-checkout lanes; customers prefer them.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Shopping Secrets: Ways Supermarkets Get You to Spend More Money

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The next time you take your weekly trip to the grocery store, take a look around you. It turns out all of the minute details -- the fresh flowers greeting you in the entrance, the shining vegetables on the tables -- may all be ploys by the supermarket to get you to spend more than you thought you would.

"We're priming the shopper to tune in to a kind of experience," said Liz Crawford, author of The Shopper Economy. "It's fall, it's a farmer's market. ... We're here at the farm stand."

Soon, you're immersed in the aisles, where items the store wants you to pair together are strategically placed next to each other. Next to the barrel of apples, for example, is caramel.

"So while I'm buying the apples, I'm thinking, 'Oh, you know, I could also buy some caramel and have caramel apples. Great idea.' Now I've got an impulse buy," she said. "That's a cross-sell."

The products you see, where they are displayed, even what you smell can all be a part of a sophisticated, market-tested method to get you to buy.

The apples, sitting in their pretty little baskets, look like they're straight from the farm. They put you in a pleasant mood, thinking of autumn. That's what they call a "symbolic."

Vegetables also are staged to excite the senses. They are sprayed with water every few minutes -- giving them a fragrant smell and a glistening appearance. Nearby, the cheese stand is loaded with choices so you have to linger to find the exact kind you want.

"So while I may have come for some feta, wow, here's some crumble bleu cheese, which I can have as an alternative in my salad during the day," said Crawford.

Another means of persuasion is packing food in ice.

"It signals to the shopper, 'Hey, this is perishable. It's perishable right now,'" said Crawford. "Now's the time to pick it."

Shoppers tend to stay on the edges of the store, circling around counter-clockwise. Retailers sometimes place an eye-catching sale item near the track.

"Once I get enticed down the aisle, the chances I'll buy something go up dramatically," she said.

Shopper Sharon McCain said she was influenced to buy something she didn't intend to. She didn't come to the store to buy apples -- but still left the store with some.

"Well, they were stacked up and looked good," she said. "So I bought some apples."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


The Top Items People Stock Up on Before Hurricanes 

Jupiterimages/Pixland(NEW YORK) -- Shopping for back-to-school items has been put on hold, as people across the Northeast flood super markets and chain retailers like Walmart and Home Depot to stock up on food and survival items before Hurricane Irene traps them at home.

"Over the course of their experience with hurricanes, Walmart has learned that Strawberry Pop-Tarts are one of the most purchased food items, especially after storms, as they require no heating, can be used at any meal, and last forever," Steve Horwitz, an economist at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., who studied Walmart's response to Hurricane Katrina, told ABC News.

These are the top items that people stock up on before hurricanes hit, Horwitz says:

1. Non-perishable food that can be eaten easily and without heat, such as Pop-Tarts and bread
2. Bottled water
3. Bleach, mops and other cleaning supplies
4. Flashlights/candles etc.
5. First-aid supplies
6. Generators
7. Batteries
8. Ice

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio