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Want the lowest supermarket prices? What's your 'shopping type'?

April 3, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A just-released survey of Consumer Reports subscribers found one in three shoppers has dumped their supermarket. The main complaint? Prices. Even if you don't switch supermarkets, switching strategies can slice your grocery bill in half.

Are you a harried shopper who buys whatever catches your eye? Does your grocery bill send you into a state of shock?

Consumer Reports Senior Editor Tod Marks shopped for 30 everyday items. He says the type of shopper you are makes a big difference.

First Marks played the role of an "impulsive shopper" who never shopped for bargains.

Next he was a "savvy shopper" who scoured flyers and used savings cards and coupons.

Then he was a "store-brand fan," buying only store brands.

"I found you could save hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year if you shop smarter," said Marks.

Take orange juice for example. The impulsive shopper paid $1.89 per quart. The savvy shopper got it for $1.36, and the store-brand fan paid even less: $1.25 per quart.

For tomato sauce, the impulsive shopper paid $7.99, while the savvy shopper and the store-brand fan both got it for $1.67.

Savings on cream cheese? The impulsive shopper paid $3.29, while the savvy shopper spent $2.32 and the store-brand fan got it for 99 cents.

All in all, Marks cut his more-than-$241 impulsive-shopper grocery bill to $87 as a store-brand fan.

"But you can still save money on your favorite national brands if you stock up and save when they're on sale," said Marks. "And that happens all the time."

So to get the greatest possible savings, use lots of smart tactics, including flyers, bonus cards and store coupons in order to cut down on money spent at the grocery store.

Another way to save is to shop at warehouse clubs like Costco. But keep in mind that bigger packages that you'd buy at those types of stores don't always mean better value. You still need to check prices carefully.