The following is a guest post courtesy of My Kansas Life. Heather is a lawyer-turned-housewife who blogs about frugal, simple living and small town life at My Kansas Life.
What do stores do when they have too much of a product on hand? Clearance it, of course! At Kroger stores, clearance items are called Manager’s Specials, and they can be an excellent way to maximize your savings.
Products may go on Manager’s Special for several reasons, depending on the product and the store. For example, dairy products and bakery items on Manager’s Special are typically discounted because they are close to their expiration date. Other products might be discounted because the package is damaged. In smaller stores, items might go on Manager’s Special because the store doesn’t have room to store their overstock or because the items simply aren’t selling fast enough. Recently, my store placed several dozen bags of Nestle white chocolate chips on Manager’s Special because they simply hadn’t sold as expected during the season and the store doesn’t have enough space to store them.
For couponers, Manager’s Specials can mean huge savings — yes, you can use coupons on Manager’s Special items! I do it all the time and I’ve never had trouble using a coupon on a Manager’s Special item. Usually, coupons don’t even beep for these items since the bar codes on the Manager’s Special stickers still allow the product to ring up as the correct item for the coupon. Occasionally, the coupon will beep and the cashier has to approve it.
You can even use coupon apps like Ibotta on Manager’s Special items. For example, if you find a box of Cheerios on Manager’s Special for $1.49, you can use a $.50/1 coupon for the Cheerios, which will make the box only $.49 if your store doubles coupons. If you have an Ibotta offer for $.50 off a box of Cheerios, you can use that, too, making the Cheerios free. However, you’ll probably need to scan the product’s normal bar code for your Ibotta offer instead of the yellow and orange Manager’s Special sticker.
Digital coupons may or may not work on a Manager’s Special item, depending on how the Manager’s Special sticker is coded. When I have a digital coupon that may work for a Manager’s Special item, I decide before I even get to the register whether I still want that product if the digital coupon doesn’t work. If I want it either way, I just let the cashier scan it and check the receipt later to see if the digital coupon came off. But, if I only want the item if the digital coupon comes off, I have the cashier scan it before he scans any of my other groceries so I can see instantly whether the coupon will come off. If it doesn’t, it’s a simple matter for the cashier to reverse the purchase.
Manager’s Special items also count toward your item total during a mega event! Mega events, like those that deduct $5.00 when you buy 10 participating items, include dozens of products around the store, and they include Manager’s Special items when that product would have counted toward your mega event total if it was priced normally. For example, Fiber Choice brownies were included in the most recent mega event, but I found a box of them on Manager’s Special for $1.49. I bought nine other participating items so my store deducted $.50 per item ($5.00 total), which brought the price of the brownies to $.99. I also had a $.40/1 coupon that doubled to $.80 off. With the Manager’s Special price, mega event discount and coupon, the box of brownies only cost me $.19!
Since Manager’s Specials are based primarily on expiration dates, damaged packaging or overstocks, selection varies widely between stores. That’s why you won’t see Manager’s Specials in most coupon matchups like those here at Kroger Krazy. However, Kroger stores also put things on closeout, and Kroger closeouts tend to be nationwide — at least for the stores who carry that item — though the prices may vary. A product is usually placed on closeout when Kroger decides to discontinue it, such as a particular flavor of cookie or a certain scent of shampoo. Closeout items do not relocate to another area of the store. Instead, they are marked on the shelf with a large white and red sign. Closeout items literally change the price in the store’s computer so you should have no trouble using paper coupons and digital coupons on these products or including them in your mega event totals.
Manager’s Special items may be located in an out-of-the way place like a shelf near the stock room or a bottom row of a freezer case, but they’re worth hunting for! Dairy and produce Manager’s Specials may be located in the same place as the non-discounted items or they may be in a corner of the dairy case or produce section. I recommend making it a habit to locate your store’s Manager’s Special areas and shop there first before grabbing your other groceries. In the last few months, I’ve found awesome Manager’s Special deals at my store on eggs, carrots, salad, milk, sour cream, meats, cereal, baby formula, bread and yogurt. You never know what kinds of great deals you can find!