Many people mistakenly believe that the commissary always has the lowest prices…while this isn’t always true it can offer savings. Here are some things to know about shopping at the commissary to help you get the best deals:
Surcharge While the commissary doesn’t charge tax, there is a surcharge added to each purchase. This surcharge is currently 5% but it’s important to realize this charge is taken prior to applying your coupons-so you are charged the surcharge on the original price of your items, not your final total.
Baggers The commissary has volunteer baggers that work for tips. The do not receive any wages so if you use their services it is appropriate to tip them. This can be a factor with saving money while shopping at the commissary.
Generic Brands The commissary does not always carry the low-cost generic brands that other stores may offer so if you choose brand names you will most likely save a good percentage at the commissary but if you regularly purchase generic brands the commissary may not save you as much money.
Coupons Coupons are welcomed at the commissary and many companies offer military-only coupons that can further your savings. The commissary however does not double or triple coupons like some other stores so if you are a die-hard couponer that is something to keep in mind.
Case Lot Sales Most commissaries hold special case lot sales during the months of May and September offering specific items by the case at a 10-50% discount. These are very popular and often have very long lines so arrive early! You can also use coupons at case lot sales-one per item in each case!
Bottom Line: You can most definitely save money by shopping at your commissary but the key is to shop smart-use coupons, shop the sales, and take advantage of your local non-military stores when it is to your advantage.