Wednesday, 4 October 2017

09:36 – It was 44.5F (7C) when I took Colin out at 0645, mostly clear.

We treat our deep pantry like a personal supermarket. Barbara even keeps a “shopping” list on the refrigerator to remind us what to bring up when we go downstairs. For example, the other day she was running out of vegetable oil in the kitchen, so we carried a gallon from the deep pantry upstairs.

For pantry items that we’ve reached “steady-state” on, as soon as we remove one from the deep pantry, I immediately add one to my Walmart shopping cart. Whether I actually order it or not depends on the current price.

For example, a month or so ago, I ordered eight one-gallon jugs of vegetable oil from Walmart at $4.77 each. When I looked this morning, they were $6.18 each, a 30% jump. Unfortunately, there’s nothing unusual about such radical price changes on Walmart and Amazon. In fact, 30% is actually pretty minor. Even so, I just added a gallon jug to my cart. I’ll wait until the price drops again before I order a replacement jug. If it drops a lot–I wouldn’t be surprised to see $3.50 at some point–I’ll order several while the price is very low.

Often the price changes are even more radical. For example, a month ago Walmart had Augason Farms #10 cans of potato slices priced at $4.99 each ($4.42 each with shipping discount). That was an excellent price, so I ordered eight cans. A day or so later, Walmart’s price on that product had quadrupled to about $19/can. As of this morning, it’s down to $9.98/can, which is exactly twice what I paid a month ago.

I think it’s all about a war between Walmart’s and Amazon’s pricing algorithms. Each often tries to price just a bit lower than the other on a particular product, and it ends up looping. For example, a few months ago, Walmart had #10 cans of Augason powdered eggs priced at $12.50/can. (Amazon, IIRC, was $12.99 at the same time.) I ordered only four cans because I didn’t really need any more. A day or two later when I checked prices, Walmart and Amazon were both back up to $37/can, which was three times what I’d paid. As of this morning, Walmart and Amazon are both (coincidentally…) at $34.75/can.

And it’s not just Augason products. For example, some months ago, I noticed that Walmart had 5-pound bags of their store-brand macaroni for $2.48/bag. Less than $0.50/pound was a good price, so I ordered 50 bags. (I would have ordered 100 bags, but I figured Barbara would give me a hard enough time about 50.) Within a day or so after I ordered, their price had jumped to $5.48/bag, a 121% increase, where it remains as of this morning.

The lesson here is that Walmart and Amazon prices can vary dramatically day-to-day and even hour-to-hour. So keep an eye on their prices for stuff you need and when you see a good/great price, take advantage of it. Don’t buy one or two units; buy 20 or 50 or 100, assuming you have use for that much.

Which brings me to something that really pisses me off. Affiliate links gone mad. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t trust prepping web sites that sell products, directly or via affiliate links. That calls into question their objectivity, to put it mildly.

The other day I came across a recent article on one of these sites that was recommending various canned meat products. One of those was Costco canned chicken. That’s fine. We have 50 or more cans of Costco chicken in our deep pantry, and it’s a good product. The problem was, instead of linking to the Costco site–where a six-pack costs $12, $2/can–the article linked to Amazon, which was selling a four-pack for $30, $7.50/can. Why? Because Amazon pays affiliates for linking to their outrageously overpriced product, while Costco does not.

Every other product link in that article went to an extremely high-priced version of a product. Instead of linking to Keystone Ground Beef for $6.28 for a 28-ounce can at Walmart, the article linked to the competing Yoder product at twice or more the price. But the worst of all was Sweet Sue canned whole chicken. At HEB, it sells for something like $5.50/can. The article instead linked to a third-party seller on Amazon, which was selling it for $51 per can. Give me a break. That goes beyond sleazy.

Again, the moral is Buyer Beware. Particularly when it comes to following product links on prepping websites.