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A Generic Observation


On Sunday, I printed out our grocery price sheet and we headed out to the grocery store for some major shopping. To try to keep grocery costs down, we have been doing one major trip to the grocery store a month and then weekly trips to get things like milk, eggs and produce.

I’m not a big coupon user. If I have some, I may use them. For the most part, though, we buy generic items since they are the cheapest. I do happen to glance into other customers’ carts while shopping (I admit it 🙂 ) and I usually see a lot of name brand products.

Well, during our latest trip, some of the generic products that we normally buy were completely sold out. Other things only had a few boxes left. I looked around at other generic items and they were either very low or empty. The brand name items were almost fully stocked. I checked out a few carts and noticed quite a few with generic products.

I found this very interesting – perhaps it is a sign of the times.


  • Reply Jazed |

    I always try to buy generic as well, as it tastes the same most of the time, and it’s much cheaper. People in my town are mostly stuck up and wouldn’t be caught dead with something generic(like my mother!!) I believe it is the times though, everyone is trying to spend as less as possible and trying to stretch the dollar for everything it’s worth.

  • Reply Mr Plasectomy |

    I would have to agree it is a sign of times and people are looking to cut costs everywhere. I wonder how many people have actually changed their purchasing habits entirely?

    What time of the day did you go on Sunday? If we go at anytime past 5pm on a Sunday the place is destroyed, it seems like everyone in the town went to the store.

  • Reply Wojciech Kulicki |

    Definitely a sign of the times. I’ve always been a big proponent of generic products, and I’m glad that people are cutting back and realizing that you don’t need to pay for things with fancy labels to get an equivalent-quality product.

  • Reply Krista |

    I have noticed this, too. Frugality has been “in” for a while, but now that things are going the way they are I think we will see more people stick around once the trend is over. We can only hope, anyway.

  • Reply Jen |

    That reminded me of when I took my car in for an oil change a few months ago. The repair shop was very, very busy, and the owner said it’d been pretty crazy. It made me wonder if more people were getting their cars fixed instead of just buying a new one.

    It could have just been a fluke, but it made me wonder all the same.

  • Reply kev |

    I’ve noticed the same sorts of things and agree – it’s a sign of the times. I’ve also noticed something else though that seems to contradict the other observations. The restaurants in my area are packed! It’s especially crazy on the weekends – it seems like more people are eating out now than ever before.

    I have a feeling all those grocery and car savings are going straight to Apple Bees and Bob Evans.

  • Reply Debt Free Journey |

    Yes, I agree with all……..a definite sign of the times. And, I also agree, we are not in a recession any more…it is definitely heading toward DEPRESSION! I think everyone is beginning to get back to the basics, which I think was the Lord’s purpose in all of this anyway. My family has switched to the frozen juices in a can, where you actually add the water….I grew up on these, they taste the same and are a lot cheaper. The two things my family still insists taste different in generic brand are JIFF Peanut Butter and RITZ crackers. I think we can handle these two name brand items!


  • Reply Mike D. |

    Going shopping tonight after work, hopefully there’s still plenty of generic stuff. My wife and I buy generic all the time and the only things we go out of our way to buy name brand are Pop-Tarts, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and hot dogs (ballpark franks). Interesting to see what type of cost cutting measures have caught on, and to see what else will come.

  • Reply amaranta |

    i always buy generic also, but i have been using coupons more frequently lately + sales because i can get the brand name cheaper than generic… usually i buy the paper saturday evening, clip coupons that night and plan my list for the next day 🙂

  • Reply Pat |

    I overheard a grocery manager a few weeks ago say that they are purposely keeping their inventories lower so that may be another reason for the items clearing out so fast. Looks can be deceiving so we have to not let that feed everyone’s gloom 🙁 Perhaps the grocery stores are feeling the credit crunch with purchasing inventory.

  • Reply Emmi |

    Buying name brand in a pretty package is basically agreeing that you insist they put it in a pretty package, advertise it at you, then charge you more for having done both.

  • Reply Michelle |

    I had the opportunity to tour a cereal production facility a few years ago (although I won’t name the company out of respect for the confidentiality agreement I had to sign – they make bagged cereal … not too many in the Midwest that do that) and they explained how they could change their price structure according to what kind of packaging they used.

  • Reply Melissa |

    I have found myself buying more generic products these days as well as noticing that the generic company has come out with alot more product offerings than in past grocery visits. it helps!

  • Reply CanadianKate |

    I live rural so pop into a grocery store whenever I’m in a town with a store to buy that store’s loss-leaders.

    Last evening, the loss leader was prime rib (something we usually have) so I picked up one for tonight. I knew I was out of frozen corn and needed consomme soup for a recipe later this week. The frozen corn (name brand, we’ve tried store and don’t like them) was at my price point so I bought 4 bags. Noticed they seemed light and checked – they are now 25% smaller in volume!

    On to the soup. My regular cheap grocery store was out of generic last week so I had only bought 1 can of Campbells at a horrendous price. Tested the recipe out (this is for a church supper) and knew I needed 4 more cans so was looking for generic at this store. They had it at 1.39 a tin which was less than the supercheap store’s namebrand. Then I glanced at the namebrand next to it on the shelf. It was 99 cents! Again, an unadvertised special.

    I think this is another example of the times. Across the board I’m seeing generic pricing going up (our generic 2litre pop is now $1.19 instead of my price point of $.99) and in many cases name brand foods are really cheap (we had a listeria outbreak last summer in cold meats but the company was avoided by so many people that I bought bacon at Christmas for $1.99 a pound instead of the usual sale price of $3.99.)

    It makes relying on my usual shopping habits less effective if I’m after the lowest prices.

  • Reply MBL |

    To kev:

    A few years ago, I was in a very scary place with money. My husband was working minimum wage and in danger of loosing his job, I was working part time, and I was really scared about our financial situation and feeling very overwhelmed. I felt very poor and worried about financial things a lot (no debt, that’s never been a problem for us).

    I found myself always craving food. I craved Pizza, lo mein, tacos, cheesburgers, ice cream, samosas, etc. I’m sure this was a case of being obsessed with food because I was terrified of being without it. I felt devastated because I certainly couldn’t afford to go out to eat, so I really wanted to.

    A few months later, my financial situation stabilized. I wasn’t worried about paying rent or affording modest, home-cooked meals, and I immediately ceased having the wild cravings.

    Maybe others are going through the same thing right now. Who knows?

  • Reply Pat F. |

    I work as a cashier in a Walmart and I have really noticed in the last few months that the number of coupons being used has gone up tremendously. I also notice how much ramen we are selling. I think that people are thinking more about what they throw in their cart, and the amount they are spending more than they did in the past.

  • Reply Tricia |

    Ahh, ramen. I used to eat that stuff every day for lunch at work 🙂

    My husband noticed how busy restaurants in our area have been lately. They seem to be packed. Perhaps it is sort of a comfort/craving thing.

  • Reply Colleen in MA |

    The restaurants observation is interesting. I wonder if people that normally would have spent a lot of money on trips this winter are “downgrading” and just splurging on eating out. The news had a story the other day on how movie tickets are up this year. Maybe a lot of people can’t buy plasmas and take trips but they figure a decent trade off is a $10 movie ticket. Interesting to see the decisions people are making!

So, what do you think ?