The downside of bulk buying: not always a bargain
Be extra cautious when buying perishables in bulk. (Pixabay)
Buying groceries in bulk sounds like a great idea for many big families. Not only do you save a lot on the price, you also could cut the number of shopping trips and the potential of unnecessary purchases that come along.
Despite these benefits, there are many drawbacks to this approach, especially when people begin to excessively use it for their daily items. From wasting food to experimenting with large quantities, the benefit and savings that are originally assumed can be easily reversed. In addition, many people may lose sight of newer, different products and promotions when they are limited to particular stores that offer bulk or wholesale purchase options.
If you’re buying large quantities for your family, keep the following points in mind:
Check expiry dates
Before you pick up a 24-cup pack of box juice or yoghurt, check out for how long these are good for. Do you expect you family to consume these within a reasonable time? If the answer is no and you will end up throwing away some, then you may not be saving on the price per unit, and also creating unnecessary food waste.
Be even extra cautious when it comes to perishables like fruit and vegetables. If you’re a pro in freezing or refrigerating food for longer periods, go for large quantities. Otherwise, you may find that you’re throwing away more than you’re consuming.
Manage your cash flow
Buying in bulk may sound like a good idea until you reach the checkout line. Having bought weeks-worth of groceries, you probably will pay weeks-worth of cost despite the savings. Planning your shopping trips wisely can help you avoid a cash flow crisis at the end of the month.
If you still run out of a couple of items, getting them refilled at a lower cost may still make sense as long as you resist the temptation of getting all your shopping done at once. If you’re running on a tight budget, try to make sure that you know how much you’re spending on groceries and itemise the particular items that you need to buy in bulk. Doing so will help you divide your groceries between large purchases and small ones (for example paper towels and diapers in bulk and cheese and soda in retail).
If you see a new product and you’d like to try it, take note and get a small quantity from a retail store. Don’t head straight to the bulk size until you’re sure, first, that you like it, and that you have a need for it. For example, if you’re a single person or a couple, you probably don’t need 12 boxes of face tissues at once. It may be nice to have them in storage if you’ve space and you think you’re getting a deal, but it is definitely not a must to have them.
Similarly, think about getting tired of particular foods or drinks. Your child may be thrilled to have one or two boxes or punch juice, but probably will not be interested in 24 of the same flavour. The extras that you buy probably will go to waste and, again, offset any savings you initially made.
Different stores have offers all the time on different products — new and old. If you shop exclusively at a particular wholesaler, you may be missing on other options. Although you may not be interested in changing your paper towel brand or your child’s formula, you may need to explore alternatives if you’re looking for bedding, furniture, electronics, etc.
In addition, don’t be carried away by the potential saving on items that either don’t need or need just one. For example, a pair of scissor may be significantly cheaper than other stores if you buy in a pack of three, but the question is: Do you really need three pairs of scissors? And more importantly, do you really think the difference justifies paying for the three?
By Rana Oteify