Everything must go

Posted by Ian

There was an item on Radio 4’s PM programme a few days ago about a supposedly new supermarket phenomenon.

Shoppers, according to the report, have started congregating in specific aisles at specific times in order to be ready to pounce the moment the ‘reduced to clear’ items are put on display. This usually happens between 7 and 8pm, when all the day’s leftover fresh produce is marked down in price by as much as 70 or 80%.

Such behaviour, which is apparently spreading throughout high street stores, was ascribed to the credit crunch. A well-spoken woman was heard bemoaning the fact she’d missed out on the chance for a bargain lamb chop.

But this isn’t a new thing. It’s been going on in some parts of the country for years. When I was a student in Liverpool in the mid-90s, early evening trips to the Reduced To Clear shelves were a regular occurrence. Of particular interest were things from the bakery; you could usually pick up doughnuts and pastries for five pence. Plenty of locals would also turn up, with their eyes on half-price sausages or dairy produce about to go past its sell-by date.

I wonder why it is only now being considered a news story. Presumably because it’s something that has started affecting all parts of society (i.e. the well-off along with the hard-up) and is happening in all parts of the country.

What is a matter of routine for some clearly counts as exceptional circumstances for others.

So which are you: a devout store snob or a shameless Reduced To Clear scavenger?


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31 Responses to Everything must go

  1. Maria says:

    We are not hard up but I have always loved a bargain and always buy BOGOFs which i can freeze to use later. I only buy produce i know i will use like chicken breasts, mince and sausages. Food is so expensive these days, i have started to buy the "no frills, basic" products where you can\’t really tell the difference eg pasta, rice, tinned tomatoes etc. I have never been a real food snob but i have been known to turn my nose up at own brands. However, needs must, so i will continue with my thrifty shopping – i do get quite a buzz when i have bags of shopping and a nice small bill to give my partner! Thanks for the tip about the reduced items after 7pm – i finish work at 7.30pm so i may well start to do my shopping in the evenings from now on!

  2. Tim says:

    I have been a hunter on the RTC shelves for years – done daily you got tomorrows dinner for pence.
    I am not tight fisted but money is tight and I pride myelf I can feed myself and my partner on less than £20 per week – and eat well
    Its a question of careful shoping really. Why pay max price iin a shop when you can get it reduced, why pay big store prices when with some careful shopping you can get the same product les than half the price?

  3. paul says:

    I\’ve been doing the household shopping for years – it\’s nice change from sitting an a car / at a desk / at a laptop ! Two evenings a week, after 7pm, and I check the discount shelves at our local supermarket 3 times in the hour I\’m there. It really is quite satisfying to pick up half a dozen packs of Young\’s salmon, original price £3.34, for 17p each, knowing they\’ll go in the freezer and help us eat well and healthily, at low cost. I speng £18 the other night but saved £34 in the process by bagging all the seafood as it was reduced. Go to Asda, Netto, Aldi or Lidl – every little helps, as they say…..as long as it\’s in your pocket and not the supermarket\’s ! and yes, try the \’basics\’-type own label products, and if you don\’t like them, work your way up the price chain – some are definitely a waste of money but most are simply good value. Years ago I worked in the packaging industry, and watched exactly the same product going into Sainsbury\’s own-label vermouth as had gone into Cinzano 10 minutes before – the only difference was the label and cap…..and the eventual price.

  4. Unknown says:

    Whole family hunts the RTC sections of the shops. It\’s amazing how many cheap but filling meals you can put together like this…. especially when it\’s stuff you can freeze. Family tip – reduced 2pinters of milk at about 20-40pence is ideal for making cheap milkshakes – as it\’s always gone the same night anyway.

  5. james says:

    Thrift is great but can sometimes cost. It has been known for me to buy RTC fish and freeze it on day of purchase, only to find that once defrosted it smells rancid as it has gone off. Choose carefully!

  6. Annie says:

    my husband calls it "buying things which are whoopsed". And yes it is a phenomenon which was only in certain areas of the country ie the less affluent. I know this because when we go away on holiday to certain areas (Kendal and the Cotswolds to name a couple) thewhoopsed section is overflowing with bargains and there isn\’t a soul in sight. Come to Blackburn Lancashire and I have actually seen scuffles break out. And it is well known that Asda have the clearance earlier than Tesco so you can jump in the car and do both shops. And I am not the only one doing it!!!

  7. David says:

    It amazes me the people will pay 80p for a tin of tomatoes, purely because it has a picture of a tomoato on the tin. Sainsburys basic tomatoes are 19p per tin. Can somebody explain why an \’advanced\’ tomato should look and taste over 4 times better after you\’ve pureed it, added garlic red wine etc etc.?

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