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Food price hikes: How to find discounted yellow sticker deals

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

Grocery bills are on course to rise by £380 a year, heaping pressure on already stretched households. If you’re looking to cut back on your food costs, here are tips to help you find discounted goods.

1) Shop at the right time

There is no universal set time that dictates supermarkets should start discounting, which can make finding those yellow sticker bargains that bit harder. However, most supermarkets, regardless of their size or location, begin reducing goods on their use by date, around two hours before closing time, so ensure you check the opening hours before heading out. If the supermarket is 24 hours, then reductions typically begin at around 8pm and continue into the later hours.

It is also worth remembering that while later in the day is seen as optimum, yellow stickers can be found throughout the day and even as soon as the shop opens. This is done to help clear shelves, make way for new deliveries or if the products packaging has been damaged. Even if you are unable to visit the supermarket at the optimum time, you may still be able to find a good deal hidden away.

2) Don’t ask, don’t get

As supermarkets decide when to start reducing products on an individual basis, it can be tough to work out the best times to visit. If you spot a supermarket assistant in the aisles, manually scanning and reducing products, then it is worth asking them outright if their shop has a general time they begin reducing products.

More often than not, employees will be more than happy to share the best time to aim for. If you can’t spot anyone in the aisles, then take a trip over to the customer services desk and ask there, as they will also be able to provide more insight. If all else fails, simply calling up your local store and asking them what time you should aim for could work too.

Finally, although this may seem cheeky, you can also outrightly ask a supermarket assistant to reduce specific items for you, however, there are some terms and conditions to keep in mind with this. Firstly, you should be sure that the person you are approaching is someone who can give reductions, so try and spot their yellow sticker gun. Then, you should have a good enough reason to want your product reduced, say if it’s on or around its use-by date or if the packaging has been considerably tampered with.

3) Try Sundays

As trading hours on a Sunday are shorter, resulting in the majority of supermarkets and stores closing at 4pm, the final reduction of the day is much earlier than any other day of the week. Usually, supermarkets will start reducing at around 3pm and, because there’s less time in the day, they will usually reduce a larger quantity of products in one go, resulting in more deals readily available.

4) Find the best section – check chilled, frozen and ambient

Yellow sticker deals are not just for chilled items you can find numerous yellow sticker deals across the entire supermarket. From fresh fruit and veg to flowers and even cans of beer with damaged packaging, the entire supermarket is available for discounts. The most common oversight is focusing on the area (usually the chilled section) that has seemingly all the reduced items handily in one place. However, if you dive further into the store then you will find more areas filled with different types of reductions. The ambient aisle can house good deals, with the majority of products not reduced because they are nearing their sell-by date, but instead because their packaging has been damaged.

5) Use social media

There are online communities that are dedicated to seeking out the best yellow sticker deals. Facebook groups with thousands of members share tips for getting the best deals from their local supermarkets, as well as showcasing the incredible yellow sticker bargains they’ve been able to find. Whether you’re just dipping your toe into the world of yellow sticker hunting, or you are a seasoned pro, there’s advice for everyone online.

6) Be adventurous but sensible

When yellow sticker hunting, there is never a guarantee on what items you will be able to find and even the store assistants are never sure either. While this can be discouraging for some, the benefit of this is that it allows you to try various foods that you otherwise would never have tried before.

On the other hand, if you stumble upon the reduced aisle and notice lots of food items you particularly like or eat a lot of, then it can be tempting to overstock and take more than you need, resulting in food ending up going to waste. Not only does this cause unnecessary food waste but it means someone else will have missed out on a bargain too. Be mindful to only buy what you need and will realistically use.

Jenny McCormac is consumer expert at BrandRated