Buying a Bulk Order from Your Local Supermarket?

What’s the situation regarding a bulk order from your local supermarket: you want a couple cases or more of a particular product… They may or may not have this much in stock. Will they give a discount? Does this vary between the center store and perishables? Examples?


PS. Any experience with Walmart too?

I’d say talk to the manager

Call the store and ask the manager. If they can obtain it, they should be able to accommodate you.

They will generally have no issues ordering what you want. You can ask for a discount but they may not offer one depending on the product, if it’s something they make a decent margin on they may be more willing. Depending on the product they may want a down payment, something they can cycle through if you back out vs something that will go bad should you bail.

There are only a couple areas where grocery stores have significant markup notably in house bakeries and service deli areas. Things like canned goods not so much. Its not unusual for grocery stores to run profit margins of less than 5%.

I’ve done it, on a product I particularly liked that they no longer stocked. He said I would have to buy at least half of the case of 24 packages before they would order it. When I said I’d take them all, he was quite happy to order it. It arrived within a week, and they called me. I didn’t even have to pay in advance, but then I was a long-time customer.

Closer to 2.5 - 3% now, with the competition from Wal-Mart & Super-Target selling groceries.

But a couple other sets of items has a much higher markup:

  • the aisle of aspirin, cough drops, cold & flu pills, cold cream, etc.
  • the aisle of pots & pans, baking dishes, mixing bowls, ladles, cooking spoons & forks, knives, etc.
    Basically, anything sold in a grocery store that you don’t eat or drink can probably be found elsewhere at a lower price.

We buy bulk canned foods for a weekend backpack lunch program we do for a local elementary school. The local QFC, which is a subsidiary of Kroger, has given us discounts in the past when we order 8-12 cases of something like Spaghettios. As mentioned, the manager can probably help you out, depending on how much you’re buying.

I’d say call the store and ask for the manager in charge or store director. As noted, you’re unlikely to get a discount on food items, but you can always try negotiating.

In general, how much authority do local store managers have, in ordering products that the store usually doesn’t stock? Or even products that the store does usually stock?

It’s always seemed to me that the large chain stores, in particular, are very strongly managed – or micro-managed – by Corporate Headquarters, with respect to things like that. I’ve asked at local stores, for example, about certain products that are chronically sold-out, and the answer is always: We don’t control that. We get what Corporate decides we’ll get, and in the quantities they decide we’ll get.

(Although, to be sure, I wonder if that may be more of a limitation on what a vendor or manufacturer can supply, and thus on what the vendor or mfg is willing/able to deliver to each store.)

ETA: I know that Corporate micro-manages such petty details as the exact layout of each store and exactly what aisle and where each product is placed – they send out maps of the store showing exactly what goes where. I’ve seen the stockers at stores, occasionally, totally re-arranging the whole store, because Corporate sent them a new store layout.

Our local IGA prominently posts signs for a 10% case discount. Ask at the service desk and they will get it from the stock room if they have it, or else arrange to order it for you. Taking a case worth off the display shelves will not get the discount.

They exempt just a few items. IIRC bottled water does not get the case discount.

They do quite a business with people placing bulk orders for staple goods to ship to the other islands. Some residents of those Sister Islands will do a major shopping trip once or twice a year spending a few thousand dollars at a time putting together a few pallet loads of goods from various stores to ship home.

No kidding. I just paid $3.99 for a small roll of wrapping paper. I could have gone elsewhere, but my time today was more valuable than the savings.

Totally depends on the store. We’ve got a rather large (but still local) chain of grocery stores here named Mariano’s, part of the Roundy’s group, and the store managers there have the authority to order a trial of anything you ask for. Of course, they also have the authority to tell you no, so it’s not a given. But I was the one who got them to stock naan here, as well as wet tofu. (Seriously. They opened a whole grocery store with no tofu except the shelf stable block o’ yuck, in silken, no less.) Both took off like gangbusters, of course, so they continued to stock them on a regular basis. I also asked for a certain fruit juice that didn’t do so well, so they didn’t order another case. Really good customer service there.

But they also charge $3.99 for a small roll of wrapping paper.

Islands? Where do you live?

I had a case with Walmart where my dog liked a particular brand of dog food (and no other) and they never stocked very much (and I was looking to not have to go to the store weekly). I tried to order several cases and the department manager was unable to order more than what they normally sold (which was about 1 case and I was looking for 4 cases). We never did resolve the issue (the food was not available online) and I was finally able to get (dog) him to switch to a different brand*. I am now able to order from Amazon and get any quantity I want.


*and now he is getting picky again.

Try steak, Gunner the Great Dane tells me that most dogs would prefer that.

Grand Cayman
Shopping is rather limited on the other two islands of the Cayman Islands, particular y on Little Cayman. The discount from bulk shopping for grocery staples more than makes up for the added shipping cost to Little Cayman or Cayman Brac.

As already said, it depends on the store.

Where I work, corporate does, as you put it, “micro-manage” the store layout. The store director still has a significant leeway in ordering for local customers. She usually wants a significant quantity to justify the extra expense on our side, but the example of 4 cases of dog food would certainly be sufficient for her to make the order.

That said - if something is vendor/manufacturer supplied our options may be limited by what they’re willing to send us.

When I worked in a supermarket, we were always glad to order a case of anything we could for a customer. It sure beat the customer wiping out an entire shelf, and leaving other customers without(and steamed bosses when they saw a hole) You DID have to buy the entire case, no discount. This really worked to our advantage because we had so many independent, small local groceries(who liked our lower prices as opposed to their own suppliers(that it would be a real PITA if they didn’t order cases of stuff from us) Of course they marked up “our” stuff like made when they in turn sold it, but, a sale’s a sale.

Store owner here:

My inventory is usually pretty crazy as I buy closeouts, damages, close-dates, etc…sometimes i buy a whole trailer of a particular item.

I ALWAYS offer bulk discounts, usually my case price saves 15-25% off what my normal price is. This helps me move the volume i need to, to remain a player in the closeout game.

Sometimes if i get really buried, or need to dump a certain product i will make deals with some of my bigger customers who have larger families. Selling cases for $1-$2 but making them buy 5+ cases. Which to be fair, is not a normal thing for a grocery store to do.

Walmart gives its managers a lot of autonomy. As a matter of fact, some of their best ideas have come from store managers that decided to try something different.

I gather you own a salvage store?