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With all of the deals available this time of year, you probably wouldn’t dream of shopping for your Thanksgiving meal without plenty of coupons. But one industry group says you might as well toss your coupons aside, if you really want to save money.

Really?

That advice comes from the Private Label Manufacturers Association, an advocacy group for store brand products. How do they suggest you can save so much, without using coupons? By buying store brand products, of course.

The group has released the results from its latest price survey of seasonal products. And it found that you can set your Thanksgiving table with store brands, for 33% less than you would spend on name brand equivalents.

And that’s with coupons.

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As in previous surveys, the PLMA attempts to settle the age-old argument between non-couponers who insist that store brands are the best deal, and couponers who say they can get name brands at a better price by combining coupons and sales. Prices of all items in the survey were adjusted to account for “all known discounts, coupons and promotions available” during the six shopping visits to an unnamed “typical supermarket in the Northeast” over a four-week period ending this past November 4th.

Store-brand baking powder, for example, was half the price of the name brand purchased in the survey. Store-brand cranberry sauce offered 150% savings over the name brand equivalent. You can get three loaves of store-brand white bread, for the price of one name brand. And so on. In all, the net cost of the 50 store-brand items purchased in the survey was 33% less than that of their name brand counterparts.

And the price survey doesn’t even include the main course – if you factor in the doorbuster deals that many supermarkets have on store-brand turkeys, it seems store brands win hands down.

So does that really mean you should forget the coupons this Thanksgiving? Well, there are a few flaws in the PLMA’s argument. First, the group’s surveys average out prices over the four weeks. So even if a name brand was on sale one week, the three weeks it sold at regular price will skew the average much higher. Second, the “all known discounts, coupons and promotions” isn’t really all-encompassing. It only accounts for coupons that were readily available in newspapers and in stores, but omits sources of savings like digital and printable coupons. And third – who buys Thanksgiving food in October? The real deals on name brand products won’t start until a little closer to Thanksgiving itself.

Previous analyses of PLMA price surveys conducted in March 2014, and in February 2013, found that a savvy shopper could indeed get many of the name brands for less than the store brands that the PLMA said were cheaper. You could buy a name brand other than the one the PLMA bought, for example, or use a coupon that the PLMA didn’t account for, or buy the item only during the week it was on sale (since real shoppers don’t typically buy the same item four weeks in a row and “average” the price they paid).

Then and now, the PLMA acknowledges that its findings are “not being offered as a rigorous or scientific survey, but only a benchmark of savings that an average shopper may encounter if they favor the retailer’s brand.” As a PLMA representative told Coupons in the News about a previous survey, the results do not “show the total savings a shopper might be able to pocket if they aggressively pursue coupon savings via all the avenues covered in a website such as yours.”

So on second thought, don’t throw away those coupons. You can certainly find some deals buying store-brand products. But as long as the national brands keep offering coupons and deals, it just might be a name-brand Thanksgiving after all.

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3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Why You Should Throw Away Your Coupons This Thanksgiving - Simple Frugal Mom | Simple Frugal Mom

  2. Would be interesting for the Private Label Manufacturers Association to push more private label coupons. The products generally have the margins to do so and it would be helpful for them to get people to try their products.

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