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Unit-Pricing: How to Tell if Bulk Is Better

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by JulianaWeissRoessler)
at 12:09PM Wednesday May 30, 2012
under Shop Smarter

You're in the grocery store aisle with the purpose of buying more sugar since you've run out. There's two packages of your favorite brand,one large and one small. It's likely that you grab the big package without even giving it a second thought. After all, you need a lot of sugar, and it's abetter deal.

But is it a better deal? Originally, marketers began selling bulk products at a discount because it encouraged their customers to buy more.But over time, they got wise to the fact that we weren't actually crunching the math. If we saw a bigger package, we'd just assume it was cheaper than buying a comparable amount of smaller packages.

So what did they do? They upped the price again! Often,making the bulk packages cost more – not less. Of course, that's not always the case, but you can't assume just because you're buying more that you're getting a better deal.

So does that mean you have to carry a calculator the next time you head to the store? No way! Most grocery stores have a system that makes it easy for you to compare the actual price of what you're buying. When you look at the price tag, you'll find two difference prices – the larger number you're used to paying attention to (the one you'll have to pay at the register), but also a smaller number that usually in a lower corner. This number gives you the unit price.

The next time you price compare, ignore that big number and just focus on the little unit price to see which product is actually offering the best deal. It will tell you how much you will pay for each "unit," which can be per ounce, pound,sheet, etc. This makes it easy to compare different size packages across brands as well as assessing whether an item on sale is worth it.

But even if the unit price is better, take a moment to consider if it is the best deal for you.Ask yourself: will you actually use all of the product before it goes bad? And is taking up the extra space in your fridge or cupboard actually worth the amount you are saving?