Woolworths reveals truth behind shopper's 'secret code' theory on food markdown times

A Woolworths shopper’s theory on the best time to score a bargain on marked down goods has been disputed by the supermarket giant.

The NSW shopper shared her find with a savings group on Facebook, eager to spread the news about how customers could possibly pinpoint the best time to save money on groceries.

“I believe I’ve found a time stamp for when the markdowns happen on Woolies’ new labels,” the customer wrote in the Simple Savers group.

The woman showed two examples of Woolworth’s ‘quick sale’ labels with what she thought were the times marked on the top right hand side of the label.

Woolworths quick sale markdown items
A Woolworths customer showed two examples of ‘quick sale’ labels with what she thought were the times marked on the top right hand side of the label. Source: Facebook

‘Most likely to hit gold’

One of the bargains was Woolworths beef topside roast originally priced at $27.28 and was marked down to $16.37 at 11:25am. The customer’s other find was Dairy Farmers full cream milk marked down from $3.20 to $1.86 at 10:34.

The eagle-eyed customer said she planned to use the codes to work out the “law of averages and striking when most likely to hit gold.”

Bargain hunters in the group were excited about the theory and were quick to jump on board.

“That is very observant of you. I have never looked at these labels that closely. Will be interesting to see the results!” one user responded.

“I shall take note when I find something,” another shopper wrote.

Woolworths trolleys
The end of the day is not always the best time to fill your trolley with discounts, retail experts say. Source: AAP

Markdowns vary

Some members in the group debated times that supermarkets marked down items, while others said they hadn’t noticed a specific time for markdowns.

“At our local they need to be done by 4pm,” one user posted.

“That’s very different to the store I’m at,” another member replied.

A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia there was no set time for marking down products and the decision to discount varies.

“We use markdowns from time to time to minimise food waste. The availability of markdowns will vary from day to day, and store to store, based on stock levels and demand.”

Professor Gary Mortimer, an expert in marketing at the Queensland University of Technology business school said there are lots of variables that all supermarkets consider before marking products down.

“If there was a lot of product that was coming close to its best before or use by date that would initiate a very large markdown.

“If there was only a couple of products left over they would probably only mark it down very slightly,” he told Yahoo News.

A Coles shopper shows how she saved over $100 on meat
One shopper shared her markdown savings of over $100 with the group. Source: Facebook

One customer in the Facebook group proudly shared an example of being in the right place at the right time with her bulk meat purchase from Coles that she said saved her over $100.

“My Coles haul yesterday... original price $150 reduced price $44. My tucker box freezer is full,” she wrote along with a photo of a bulk meat purchase.

Closing time no longer the best time to shop

While in the past customers could often expect supermarkets to offer bigger markdowns near closing time, Professor Mortimer said it was not often the case due to extended trading patterns and public holidays.

“Supermarkets are no longer restricted to having to close the store at a particular point in time.

“Now supermarkets will tend to roll that merchandise in to the next day, you might find markdowns early in the morning or in mid-afternoon, in many cases it does depend on when the food is produced,” he said.

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