There are a staggering 17,000+ dollar general stores in the United States. They collectively generate tens of billions of dollars in revenue every fiscal year.
You might be thinking to yourself, “Tens of billions of dollars? With just a dollar price tag on most items? That’s crazy!”
We’ll make things crazier by telling you that select items at Dollar General cost just a penny! You read that right. People that know how to penny shop at Dollar General stores can walk away with merchandise for a cent.
Penny shopping at dollar general isn’t as easy as just walking into the store, seeing penny sales tags on things, and buying what you want. The process takes skills that our team will look to impart on you with the information below.
Keep reading to start saving!
What is Penny Shopping?
As its name suggests, penny shopping describes shopping for goods that cost a penny. Going through this process is something that many Dollar General customers that are in the know build their weekly shopping habits around in hopes of coming up on great deals.
What’s unique about penny shopping at Dollar General is that selling items for one cent isn’t something the chain of stores is intentionally doing!
When items haven’t sold for long periods of time and Dollar General needs to get rid of them to make way for new inventory, those items are marked in their system with a removal code. Theoretically, when employees see these codes, they should remove the item from the shelves. Not all do though, or at least, not fast enough, which creates conditions where customers can feasibly buy items that have been marked.
Unbeknownst to most, items with removal codes attached to their barcode are devalued to one penny in the Dollar General system, hence one’s ability to walk away with merchandise for a cent.
When Should You Penny Shop?
Penny shopping is a possibility during any time of the week. There is, however, a prime-time where the most penny items will be on shelves for you to find.
That day of the week is Tuesday in the early morning.
Most Dollar General stores will get their inventory shipments on a Tuesday. To make way for those shipments, removal codes are issued for all applicable inventory by the end of the day on Monday.
By Tuesday morning, most stores won’t have had the chance to go through and remove flagged inventory. That will probably be something that they’ll work on through the whole first half of the week.
The longer into the week you wait, the more likely penny items will have been pulled from the shelves.
How Can You Spot Penny Items?
The hardest part of the how-to penny shop equation is understanding how to identify penny items. After all, penny items are not visibly marked as being discounted.
Unfortunately, getting a positive ID on a discounted item is more of an art than a science. That’s to say that you may think that something has likely been marked for removal only to find at checkout that the item is still a dollar.
If you look at an item’s barcodes on the bottom of their packaging, codes like SP, SU, FA, WI, 17, 18, etc., all showcase a product’s season and the year in which the item was brought into the Dollar General family.
Items that are out of season or out of the year have a high likelihood of ringing up as discounted at the register.
How to Penny Watch Resources
You might be thinking to yourself, “The idea of having to check barcodes on every item to ID discounts and then still running into the possibility of the item ringing up as not discounted at the register sounds like too difficult a game to play.”
We can’t argue with that logic. What we can do though is say that resources exist that can make the process of discount hunting much simpler.
One of our favorite resources are the many Dollar General penny shopping Facebook groups that exist. See if you can find a public or private one you can join where people share items they’ve identified as being marked on sale.
Another great resource is finding solid penny shopping at Dollar General blogs which exist all over the internet. Not all of them are the same when it comes to quality but if you spot a good one, it may end up being your best point of reference.
Finally, there are mailing lists that exist through websites where people will email you weekly Dollar General lists you can use to inform your shopping experience.
Stay Polite at Checkout
No matter how many resources or tips you lean on, sometimes, you’ll walk up to the register, ring up an item you expect to be a penny, and you’ll be wrong. In these cases, it’s important to be polite with checkout clerks as again, penny shopping is not a formal promotion the store runs.
If you don’t want to pay full price for an item or items, just ask the clerk to take back the merchandise you’d prefer not to leave the store with.
You Now Know How to Penny Shop at Dollar General
Knowing how to penny shop at dollar general is an incredible skill that will save you money and may lead you down the rabbit hole of a fun hobby. We hope the skills we’ve shared with you help you penny shop successfully at your local discount store and also welcome you to explore more fun life hacks in our blog for additional savings tips and tricks.