Raiders of the Reduced Aisle Crosses the Channel

After months of silence, slogging away to finish my studies, I’ve popped over to work in France for a little while and what better way to celebrate an arrival with our continental cousins than by visiting my nearest supermarket and having a good snoop.
I’m extremely lucky to have an excellent Lidl right by my place here in Paris and as I have previously reported it’s sometimes easy to consider Lidl as one great big reduced aisle. But my god do they go one better here in France. Now surely we all agree that French food is ruddy bloody delicious (save the fact that every vegetable is overcooked and covered in herby butter) well imagine how they trump us in the reduced aisle. And of course it’s all about style and quality over quantity here, so sure I only found 2 things which I had to hunt for but check out what they are:

"It may not be Wednesleydale but it's very nice cheese Gromit"

So, delicious cheese and then I found some amazing steak….there is no hope for healthy eating here.

Pavés Marinés: aka bloody deliciously herbed hunks of steak

And then for your pleasure and delight I present my reduced aisle antics and travels over the past few months:
  1. A trip to a smallish Liverpool Tesco shows how other Tescos aren’t pulling their weight…
  2. A long journey back down the M50 calls for a stop at a prolific service station….
  3. Frantic scenes at Cardiff Tesco Extra at 7pm feeding time – definite scenes of shoving
  4. The wonderfully mental reduced aisle witnessed throughout July in Crwys Road Co-Op
 

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Co-Op takes the biscuit for strangest array of reduced items including: shampoo, pasta and air freshner.

THE BIG EXPERIMENT:When’s Best to Stock Up? FINAL DAY 16:30

Piled high to the rafters - those pizzas had disappeared by the time I came back for my final check!

After a week of going to my same Tesco Express on City Road at different times of the day to check the reduced aisle, I’m sad to say the experiment has come to an end. But in more positive news, I’ve now got loads of food and indeed data to digest so I can give some great tips on how best to raid your local reduced aisle.

I’m going to spend the next week looking at the results to see any patterns but for now, have a look at what I found today at 16:30, following that coveted second reduction (for more info on this, see yesterday’s post):

THE RESULTS:
Total items found: 14
Breakdown: 3 Fresh Vegetables/Fruit, 4 Meat/Fish, 0 Side Dishes, 1 Ready Meal, 6 Baked Goods, 0 Sandwiches, 0 Dairy/Yoghurt, 0 Inedible, 0 Drinks

All found in the aisle, as the staff were doing a great job of making sure it was all in one place:

  • Breaded Cod Fillets – £3 to £1.25 Saving of £1.75
  • Chicken and Gravy Pie – £2.98 to £1.19 Saving of £1.79
  • Cheese & Tomato Pizza – 48p to 19p Saving of 29p
  • BBQ Chicken Pizza – £2.35 ro 95p Saving of £1.40
  • Chicken & Stuffing Slices – £2.65 to £1.09 Saving of £1.56
  • Whole Roast Chicken – £5.25 to £2.09 Saving of £3.16
  • French Fancies – £1.87 to 49p Saving of £1.38
  • Lemon Bakewells – £1.77 to 45p Saving of £1.32
  • Pear – 44p to 19p Saving of 25p
  • Cauliflower – £1.27 to 55p Saving of 72p
  • Chicken and Broccoli Pie – £2 to 85p Saving of £1.15
  • Savoy Cabbage – 76p to 35p Saving of 41p
  • Finest Pappardalle – £4 to £1.65 Saving of £2.35
  • Chicken Fillets – £3 to £1.25 Saving of £1.75

 

Total potential saving: £19.28.

I couldnt resist this last time and boy did I get some bargains there!

 

Having come to the end, it’s most definitely time to get eating. I’ll be back very soon with a more detailed overview of my results.

Let me know if you can add to any of the results and analysis you’ve seen this week by posting a comment below and I’ll make sure to get back to you.

The BIG EXPERIMENT, signing off, for now…

THE BIG EXPERIMENT:DAY 6 15:30 The Manager Reveals!

Saturday, the lovely weekend, and not only did it bring a lovely summer’s day, it also brought in the weekend staff at the local Tesco, who were much more intrigued by what a strange lady was doing with a notepad and a cameraphone in their shop. The manager very politely asked me if I needed any help and in the end, she was more than helpful, but more on that later.

Here’s what I found in today’s raid at 15:30:

But as ever, more bargains to be had elsewhere in the shop!

Mini Chocolate Roll Bites - £3.07 to £1.99 Saving of £1.08

Tulips - £3 to £1.79 Saving of £1.21

Plums - £1 to 70p Saving of 30p (but they are usually £1.45 anyway)

Pleased to see theyve got the bread in the aisle as well as in the bread section.

THE RESULTS:
Total items found: 12
Breakdown: 4 Fresh Vegetables/Fruit, 0 Meat/Fish, 0 Side Dishes, 0 Ready Meals, 4 Baked Goods, 1 Sandwich, 0 Dairy/Yoghurt, 1 Inedible, 2 Drinks

Found in the aisle:

  • Ploughman’s Sandwich – £1.55 to £1.09 Saving of 46p
  • Pineapple Chunks – £1.30 to 95p Saving of 35p
  • Mouthwatering Melon – £1.30 to 95p Saving of 35p
  • Cabbage – 76p to 55p Saving of 21p
  • Chocolate Birthday Cake – £4.16 to £2.75 Saving of £1.41
  • Tesco White Bread – 69p to 49p Saving of 20p
  • Carling (2 cans) – £4.67 to £2.10 Saving of £2.57
  • Strongbow (3 cans) – £3.64 to £2.18 Saving of £1.46

Found elsewhere:

  • Plums – £1 to 70p Saving of 30p
  • Hovis Wheatgerm – 60p to 45p Saving of 15p
  • Mini Chocolate Roll Bites – £3.07 to £1.99 Saving of £1.08
  • Tulips – £3 to £1.79 Saving of £1.21

Total Potential Saving: £9.75

But, more interestingly whilst speaking to the manager – a very helpful lady might I add – she revealed the thing that this experiment has been looking to find….the pattern and the Tesco protocol for reducing items.

In her own words:

We try to get all the reduced stock ready between 11 and 1pm but it depends on how busy we are with deliveries. The whole purpose is to avoid any waste.

I then asked her about why some items aren’t put in the reduced aisle but, rather left on their original shelf.

Good question, what we do quite often is put things in two places. Some people come in and go straight for the reduced items, others know what they want specifically and this gives us the best possible chance to sell them and reduce our waste.

So there you have it – that definitely makes a lot of sense. For those who don’t normally go specifically to the aisle, it means they get the chance to buy what they orginally came in for, for a bit less and for raiders like us, we also get the opportunity to look at all of what’s on offer in one place. Smart move. But that only works when there is more than one of the item in question so it’s not a hard and fast rule, certainly.

For me, the million dollar question was this: when do you then put an extra reduction on what’s left?

You should stick around because we’ll be reducing them again in about half an hour. We have to reduce anything that’s left between 3:30 and 4:30. The machine does it all automatically.

Right, so potentially the best time to go is between 15:30 and 16:30, particularly if you’ve seen that the reduction’s just happened. That’s certainly a step forward for me.

To add to that, my highly scientifc week-long research has shown so far that in most cases in Tesco on a first reduction, you’re looking at anything between 27% and 34% off but we’ll have to wait til tomorrow to find out how much off you can expect for that magic second reduction.

The End of the Reduced Aisle?

Now, I’m not one to scare-monger but I’m sorry to say that recently I’ve noticed a worrying trend of not using the reduced aisle for its sole purpose in life.

Take these tomatoes that were not to be found in the (then empty) reduced aisle, but indeed in the veg aisle.

Cheeky cherry tomatoes - hidden away secretively

Supermarkets are now almost making us hunt for our bargains as if we’ve been in captivity for the past who knows how long. This does mean greater satisfaction when you do find something reduced but on the other hand you can no longer restrict your shopping to one handy little place.

Check out this strange little notice I saw in my local Tesco as well – what does it mean?!! Answers on a postcard please!

"All Items in Reduction Area - Ask the Assistance - Less Than Half Price"

Things you wouldn’t expect to find in a reduced aisle

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Over the months it has often struck me just how strange some things are that crop up in the reduced aisles of Cardiff. Take for example, Blackwell’s who do quite a good sale every now and again clearly just to get rid because the items are rock bottom.
I found not only novels and diaries but also DVDs and even maps. I treated myself to some lovely pencils for 75p reduced from £3.

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Exhibit B will have to be the perfectly good pair of tights I picked up today in Tesco. A bit of damage to the packaging but they were reduced from £1.50 to £1.12. Not bad when you anticipated the usual sausage rolls and pineapple squares!
Have you guys ever found anything bizarre?

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