Daze of My Life: Going Around in Circulars

Daze of My Life
Going Around in Circulars

I'm sure it's unintentional, and not for any competitive advantage, but the decisions made over the past few years by some of the local major grocery store chains--Giant, Safeway, Superfresh, Shoppers Food Warehouse and Food Lion (and the ones with whom I'm most familiar, given my shopping radius and proximity)--to alter their weekly advertising circulars' effective dates has me totally confused. No longer are all their weekly sales' effective dates the same, i.e., Sunday through Saturday. No longer are their advertising circulars all arriving in the Sunday editions of the major daily newspapers; some are arriving mid-week via the mail. And thus, no longer are these grocers all on the same advertising page. Now they're all different. As a result, no longer do I have a consistent clue, as I have for years, what to buy, where, when and for how much.
Food Lion/Bloom/Bottom Dollar and Safeway sale-price their weekly circulars' effective dates to run Wednesday through Tuesday; Giant, very recently, switched their weekly sales' effective dates to run from Friday through Thursday; Superfresh, years ago, and more recently, Shoppers Food Warehouse, so far as I noticed, switched to a Saturday through Friday cycle; CVS, the lone drugstore in my shopping rotation, remains the lone holdout, keeping its weekly sales' circulars' effective dates, Sunday through Saturday, with its circular still arriving in the Sunday newspaper. (Harris-Teeter, Magruders, Rite Aid and Walgreens, etc., are not located within my shopping sphere, so I really don't know and/or pay attention to their circular sale-cycle story.)
Since grocers no doubt spend millions of dollars to produce, print and insert these advertising circulars, I'm going to assume that they believe (A) they're effective and (B) consumers actually take note of the circular's content (items for sale) and plan their week's shopping accordingly. Furthermore, I'm going to assume that I am not the only conscientious consumer out here who reviews and studies these weekly circulars to determine if anything my family needs or wants is on sale this week.
Simple enough when every grocer/drugstore's sales' cycle are identical; simple enough if I know, as I have known for years, that Sunday through Saturday, wherever I went to buy whatever I want, that item will be the sale price as it appeared in the most recent Sunday-inserted advertising circular. Not so simple, however, when these same stores have different effective dates for their weekly sales and the day you've arranged/planned to shop just happens to be the day after that particular store's sales' cycled ended.
So I've come up with a plan. I've mapped out a strategy. I've outlined a spreadsheet-type grid of the days of the week when all of the grocers/drugstores I typically frequent have their week's circular's prices in effect. And what I've determined is, of the seven consecutive days when the week's sale prices are in effect, and of course you all now know that these days are different, only three of those seven days--Sunday, Monday and Tuesday--will all the prices in all the stores be on sale at the same time. So whatever item I remember seeing, wherever I remember seeing it, will be sale-priced on these three days, only. That's' what I'm thinking.
What I'm not thinking is, organizing a list and itemizing products, prices, places, sale effective dates, etc. in columns and then planning my week's stopping and shopping accordingly. I definitely want, and need, to spend less money, but I won't do it if I have to spend more time preparing for it.
Is that these grocer's intentions or am I a stranger in town?

Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.