Don't get hoodwinked by 'discount' stores

30 September 2010

I’m not going to be shy about it – there’s nothing I love more than a mooch around Poundland or Iceland on a Saturday. The discounts! The reduced aisle! The promise of cheap food!

While these budget stores might appear like a good deal, sometimes I realise I’m actually being hoodwinked into a false sense of security.

Take big supermarkets. They all have their own range, and also their own value range. I always make an immediate beeline for the value range, and never stop to think it might not be the cheapest.

If something’s called ‘value’ or ‘basic’ that’s good enough for me. (Another tip in supermarkets – if you visit them towards the end of the day, or especially on a Sunday afternoon, you can pick up some total bargains in the reduced section. Fruit and vegetables you can pick up for a nominal amount.)

Last week I was in Sainsbury’s, buying a few bits for my flat. I needed some new pillows, so picked up the value pillows priced at £4.88 and threw them into my trolley. Only later, when I went back to look for something else, did I notice another pair of pillows for cheaper – Sainsbury’s own brand.

It’s the same in Poundland. I’ve been conned into buying shampoo (that’s probably fallen off the back of a lorry) and toothpaste for a pound each, whereas in the supermarket, own-branded products are around half the price.

Iceland is another offender. The big red labels promising easy, round prices lull me into believing that this is the cheapest option – when actually, it might not be.

I’ve just stumbled upon this genius website which sells discounted food and delivers it straight to your door. It’s discounted shopping but without all the hassle.

But shopping around hundreds of different shops to get the best deal is just not an option. I’ve learnt where sells the basics the most cheaply, and I try to buy local produce - guaranteed to be cheaper than the pre-packed stuff at the supermarket.

Just bear in mind – what looks like a good deal, actually might just be clever supermarket advertising.