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where should you do your foodshopping?

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legal warning: The information here should not be understood legally as financial advice. If you believe anything on this site is in error, please contact me. I am always open to corrections, new ideas, and new opinions...

The most important trick to saving money when you go shopping is choosing where to shop.  In this post I intend to explain the marketing behind Israeli supermarkets and how you can save by beating them at their own game

Why is there a Shufersal Sheli, Shufersal Big, and and Shufersal Deal? Aren’t they all the same company?  This is a classic case of market segmentation.  Segmentation is dividing people into groups, or noticing their natural groupings, and responding with a marketing strategy designed to meet their needs, or more often, milk each one for all it’s worth.

There are generally 5 types of supermarkets in Israel:

#1 – The poor person’s supermarket (Mega Bool, Shufersal Deal) – This supermarket is aimed at low income consumers as is designed to take complete advantage of them.  A lot of marketing research has shown that while low income consumers struggle to save on the everyday items, when they finally decide to splurge, they do so irresponsibly.  Most items in a poor person’s supermarket are available in a generic brand (Mega or Shufersal brand), but the items that are not are overpriced.  Wine, baked items, and meat are a huge ripoff in these places.  I usually only use this kind of supermarket for the generic brand items, which usually always fit my magic numbers and save me a lot of money.

#2 – The Charedi supermarket –  These supermarkets are always kind of funny.  You can find seforim, tzitzit, a suit, and do all your food shopping under one roof.  There is always a bargain on “Jewish” essentials (wine, chulent meat, etc) but most other items are generally overpriced.  These stores know that you think about Shabbas when you shop and are likely to rip you off on cereal, tuna and dairy products.  For that the best place is …

#3 – The “shuk” supermarket – These supermarkets do not exist in large chains; rather they are independent supermarkets (or part of a small chain) and situated near a shuk (Where I live in Petah Tikvah, Hiper Dudu is a good example.)  These supermarkets try to compete with the shuk next door by offering a bit more convenience.  Their fruit and vegetable prices are a bit more than the shuk itself, but meat, fish, and dairy products are usually a great buy.  These stores usually do not carry any generic brands, so I do not use them to buy my canned goods (unless I want a name brand.)  Cereal is also usually cheapest in these kinds of places.  Be warned though, these places are crowded, pushy, and generally not so easy to navigate.  It is the classic tradeoff of convenience for price.  If you are willing to pay a bit more for convenience try…

#4 – The middle class supermarket (Mega, Shufersal Big) – These supermarkets are for families who can get along with some kind of deal on something each week.  The customers are somewhat brand aware, but will also go generic.  These stores sometimes have good deals on non-generic items, but are generally a bit above the prices I want to pay (keep in mind, it is still much cheaper than the non-generic items in the poor person’s supermarket).  When I have a bunch of kids around me one day, I may want to shop here and pay the extra 50 shekels to have an easier, more comfortable evening shopping with my family.

#5 – The rich person’s supermarket (Mega BaIr, Shufersal Sheli) – This supermarket is aimed at people who are picky about brands, need connivance and aesthetics, and don’t check prices.  These supermarkets are usually located very conveniently (in a mall, in a nice residential area), and charge extra for it.  I usually only shop in these stores when I have no other option.

Combining two of the above options will help you save regularly when shopping.  I personally shop for generic items at the poor person’s supermarket and get everything else at the shuk supermarket.  Depending on your needs, you may choose another combination…

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