Here are the supermarket reduction times, so you know exactly when to shop for bargains at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda and other supermarkets.
Trying to find the best bargains at the supermarket can be difficult at the best of times when you’re battling with BOGOFs and price per unit.
If you need to get cheap food, yellow sticker bargains are one way to make sure you will spend less. Trouble is where do you even start, and what time should you hunt out those reductions?
Here we explain what we’ve found when we go shopping and share tips from infamous bargain hunter shoppers from Reduce Your Supermarket Spend, so you’ll know when each of the supermarket reduction times are.
Hopefully, this will help so you won’t waste your effort going shopping and coming back with nothing.
What time do supermarkets reduce food?
Yellow stickers is a pet name for food that is has a use by or best before date of the next day or so. After the date has passed, the store won’t be able to sell it anymore. Instead of allowing food to waste, they pop a yellow sticker on it with a new reduced priced.
If you’re working to a tight budget, it’s a great way to fill your freezer and spend less. It’s also a chance to pick up a treat that you might not be able to afford at full price.
I’ve also found it a way to try food I might not have had before. Like, I had never had fresh tuna and didn’t want to waste money if I didn’t like it, so when I saw it has a yellow sticker discount, I jumped at the chance to try it.
Each supermarket has different practices about when they reduce their food and have better yellow sticker discount than others.
What time do Tesco reduce food?
Tesco reductions start towards the end of the day on fresh meat, fish, fruit, veg and bakery items.
Tesco reduction times seem to vary from store to store. After having shopped in a few different stores I found the discounts earlier in the day are usually naff and I’ve only been able to get a few pennies off. The later in the evening you can shop the more chance a 50% off discount, or more.
It’s best to go after 8 pm or around 30 minutes before smaller stores close.
What time do Tesco reduce food on Sunday?
As shopping hours are different on a Sunday, look to start shopping for yellow sticker bargains around 45 minutes before the stores close.
What time do Sainsbury’s reduce food?
Yellow sticker discounts at Sainsbury’s seem to be different store to store. You should be able to find some discounts just after lunchtime when they start reducing the food. The best time to go is around 7 pm to your local Sainsbury’s store as that’s when the majority of yellow stickers will get put on food.
Each store will usually have set place to keep the yellow sticker food. In my local store, there is a section in one of the fridges in the middle of the meat aisle.
What time do Morrisons reduce their food?
Morrisons reduced items times can start from late morning, but again you will find the best reductions later in the evening.
Try from around 5 pm for reductions of around 75% off. If there is any food left from 8 pm onwards food could be sold for pennies.
Instead of all food sitting on the shop floor in the hope somebody would buy them, Morrison’s has teamed up with the Too Good To Go app to offer discounted food. For £3.49 you can get a Magic Box with about £10 worth of yellow sticker food inside.
You can’t buy these magic boxes is directly in the store. Instead, download the Too Good To Go app to see if your local store has any available. The best time to check is about 6 pm each evening.
What time does Asda reduce food?
In Asda, you’re looking for “whoops” yellow stickers.
Asda reduce to clear the food in the morning, so head to store earlier in the day. They can have a second round of discounts from around 7 pm onwards. Usually, you won’t find many bargains left after 9 pm.
What time do Marks and Spencer reduce food?
I always get some of the best discounts in M&S.
For me, there are two best times to try. Either go first thing in the morning or later at night.
At around lunchtime, they reduce their food by 20p here and there, but around 30 minutes before the store closes you can see food drop to around 10p if you’re lucky.
Aldi starts to reduce their foods in the mornings. Instead of a yellow sticker, look out for red 50% off stickers.
When food is a day before its use by, they also add an additional 75% off stickers.
Aldi has also introduced discounts of 30% off imperfect packaged products.
I believe the discounts are usually put on before 8 am when the stores are opening, but there is always plenty when I go shopping after the school run.
Reduced items at Lidl
Lidl have orange stickers on their foods that get you a set 30% off the marked price.
Price reductions start as early in the morning as possible, so go and grab cheap food if you’re an early bird.
If food doesn’t sell, final reductions often start around lunchtime onwards and stickers get replaced with green “Waste Not” 20p or 70p stickers!
Before lunchtime, you could find a whole create of cheap fruit and veg for £1.50.
You should be able to find them at the till (if they’ve got any left), or you could try to ask nicely if they can make one up.
My local Co-op seems to do discounts at all times of the day.
As it moves into the evening, I found you can get discounts for up to 75% off the original price.
Waitrose reductions can vary from store to store, based on what individual store managers want to do.
Most stores start to reduce things after the lunchtime rush. They then do a second batch of reductions on the food around two hours before the store is close where you can get around 50% off.
Iceland free food
Iceland gives away free food that is near its best before or use by.
It’s for people who order their food for delivery, rather than shopping in store.
If you order something and the item they pick is within a date of its label date, you get it for free (and get a refund on what you would have paid.
Best time to get reduced food at supermarkets
So, as you can see, yellow stickers can arrive first thing in the morning, but some of the best bargains are found early evening before the shops shut when you can find discounts of 75%.
Even though the shop down the hill from me reduce their food at a certain time, that doesn’t always mean your local will do the same time. Individual stores and their management may change things about.
Plus, it’s all down to how much food doesn’t get bought at full price, and whether you have competition with other shoppers.
While you can hazard a guess for the best time to get reduced supermarket food, you don’t know what else will interfere with you getting cheap food.
The longer you can hang on before heading to the shop, the better the bargain will be, but you cannot guarantee the store will have anything in, or that stock will be left.
Supermarket reduction times tips
When it comes to supermarket reductions and yellow sticker shopping, I have to admit that I sometimes struggle. I either get there and there’s nothing suitable, the discounts are tiny, or there is nothing left.
I know some people do amazingly well, so we’ve asked a couple of yellow sticker “pros” from Reduce Your Supermarket Spend to share their tips on how they always manage to get cheap food.
Get tips from staff
June Ward regularly shares meals she makes from her yellow sticker finds with the supermarket community on Facebook.
She told us: “For me it’s really down to chance.
“l learned from staff at my local M&S that early morning is the best time to get good bargains.
“I would say get to know and build up a good rapport with staff in your local store, but it’s more a case of right place, right time.”
Timing is important
Calum Matherson picks up yellow sticker hauls regularly and makes some stunning fakeaways with them! He told us:
“I have recently discovered my local Asda now reduces all food first thing in the morning this is completely different from the usual 7 pm final reduction. I find the food is now 75% reduced in the mornings rather than night time.
“Asda is the only other supermarket along with Lidl and Aldi who seem to reduce their food early in the morning now all the rest still tend to reduce their food later on in the afternoon.
“Hot spot time for M&S is still about 6 pm for best reductions, especially later on a Sunday evening.
“Morrisons and Tesco seem to start reducing food at lunchtime. The best reductions are about 6 pm and this is when you can get ridiculous bargains like £30 roast beef joint down to £1.
“Morrisons meat is still the best out all the supermarkets in my opinion.”
But when do you find the best reduced food at supermarkets? Please share in the comments below.
More yellow sticker tips
We all love a bargain. That’s why you read this blog, right? However, it’s not a bargain if you can’t use it.
When we buy reduced food items at the supermarket, we still expect them to be edible. Here are some points to consider when hunting out that rock-bottom priced product:
Adjust your meal plan
Meal planning is one surefire way to make sure you can keep your supermarket spend down. If you’ve planned your week out already and then stumble across a great bargain in the yellow sticker section, remember to adjust your meal plan when you get home so you won’t have any food waste.
You could always save your cheap food for next week to bring the cost down then instead.
Use your freezer
Remember, most items can be frozen until later.
Do some advance meal prep:
- Most meats freeze well to be defrosted at another time.
- Some of the cheaper seasonal vegetables (UK), such as carrots and parsnips, can be boiled for a few minutes and then frozen.
- Bread can be made into breadcrumbs and frozen.
- Bananas can be sliced and put into freezer bags and frozen. These can later be used in smoothies or to make a healthy banana ice-cream, just by blending it for a few seconds.
It’s also worth keeping in mind how much room you’ve got in your freezer in the first place. If you’re going yellow sticker hunting and you have no room, keep in mind what you’re going to do with any food you buy.
How quickly would you be able to use it if you don’t have enough storage space?
You will find you get more choice of yellow stickers in a smaller store, as they don’t have as many people heading through their doors. This is mainly due to location.
Instead of trying your usual bigger supermarket, head to some of the ones out of town.
Not just supermarkets
It’s not just supermarkets that reduce their food.
Check out your local corner shop, convenience stores, Boots “yellow sticker” their sandwiches, and you can usually find cheap food in the petrol station shop.
Again, individual store managers will have a say on reduced items, so yellow sticker bargains are completely store dependent.
Although it may be possible to meet people in the supermarket and develop a lifelong friendship, that’s not what I’m talking about here.
The friends you need to make are the butcher, the baker and the … no, not the candlestick maker … the store manager.
You need to know when they reduce items. Tell them you’re on a budget and how much you adore their store and want to be a loyal customer (flattery gets you everywhere), but you need to be a savvy shopper, and you would appreciate it if they could help make that easier.
Manners cost nothing
Some yellow sticker shoppers can give the rest of us a bad name. I remember seeing videos going viral on social media where people are banging their trolleys together or shouting at each other over a cheap loaf of bread. That really isn’t what yellow sticker shopping is like.
Members of staff in supermarkets can get a hard time at the best of times, and a little kindness goes a long way.
While it may be tempting to get that bargain, it’s not worth stalking staff, waiting by a door for them to walk onto the shop floor, and don’t follow them around the aisles. Trolley wars with other shoppers could get you banned from the shop too. It’s just not nice for anyone and can’t be any good for your blood pressure.
Don’t be quick to judge
I know there’s been a lot of argument and controversy in the past about how much you should take when you come across a massive haul of yellow stickers. But, the thing is, none of us knows anyone else’s individual circumstances.
If you see 10 packs of something sitting there for a £1, should you take them all or should you leave some for somebody else?
You don’t know if anybody else is going to come along and be able to take the cheap food. If they don’t that food will end up just being wasted.
You might not think it’s fair that some get loads and others don’t get anything – it can really be just down to luck and being in the right place at the right time.
You also don’t know why some buy more than others. Their freezer could’ve broken, and they need to replenish stuff that they had before, they could be buying for their neighbour or other family members, they could have eight kids, and they’re just trying to make ends meet.
If somebody gets a lot of cheap food, I know It’s easy to get the green-eyed monster, but your time will come so let’s celebrate everyone successes.
Use by, best before?
Be careful when buying at a reduced price. Make sure you follow all storage instructions on the packaging.
Most people get confused by the different dates that appear on the packaging. To summarise:
- Best before date – this is more about the quality of the product than how safe it is to eat.
- Use by date – the product should be used by the end of this date. All storage instructions on the packaging should be followed.
- Display until and sell by date – the display until and sell by dates are used more to help with stock control in the store and are mainly for the benefit of the staff.
Fed up over overspending at the supermarket? Me too! That’s why I’ve launched Reduce Your Supermarket Spend community over on Facebook. Come and join us and start saving today.