PILE HIGH CLUB
Bulk-buying can save you thousands
When Durban mom Ncumisa Ndelu runs out of roll-on, body lotion, washing powder or toilet cleaner, she simply heads to her storeroom.
Ndelu hasn’t bought cleaning materials and toiletries in over a year, having gathered a stockpile of nonperishable groceries since she started bulk-buying goods on special to save money three years ago.
Ndelu, a communications specialist, runs a Facebook group, 1 Family 1 Stockpile, with more than 4 000 South Africans who are stockpiling groceries in every available storage space in their homes.
Stockpiling — a far cry from the days of hoarding groceries and essential items during times of war or natural disaster — has become popular worldwide as tough economic times prompt savvy shoppers to buy goods in bulk when they are on special.
“I just enjoyed saving money and having a large stock of different items so I wouldn’t have to buy them every month,” said Ndelu.
“My lowest grocery bill for a month was R1 500, and that was vegetables and some meat. On my latest till slip I was told I had saved R624 and it is moments like that which give me a real kick,” she said.
Ndelu has stopped buying on a “need” basis when it comes to nonfood items.
“You end up paying whatever retailers want you to pay. Stockpiling is about saving, and over time I have learnt to walk away from items because I can afford to wait for the sale price.
“I also do not leave the house before scouting different websites and shopping apps looking for the best deals, because I feel terrible when I discover that I’ve paid more elsewhere,” she said.
Johannesburg English teacher Natalija Cameron, who runs the Frugal In SA blog, is also a stockpiler.
Standard of living
“I stockpile, but only within my monthly budget. Grocery items I tend to stockpile include staples like rice, pap and pasta as well as meat, canned food, tea, coffee, long-life milk, oil and pet food,” she said.
Cameron’s stockpile also includes toiletries, washing powder, fabric softener and household cleaning supplies.
“As I go about my month-end shopping, I see more and more people stockpiling on items that are on special, for example, with five or six or even more of the same item in their trolleys.
“Having a reasonably well-stocked, even though small, stockpile of items we regularly use definitely saves us money each month. For example, if I’ve stocked up on washing powder at R20 each per kilogram I plan to use for the next six months, I’ve then ‘saved’ at least R5 to R10 per kilogram of washing powder over that period.”
Saving is as South African as Nelson Mandela, said Wits Business School marketing professor Steve Burgess.
He said that during the struggle years, South Africans frequently shopped and saved collectively, partly as a strategy to overcome the severe economic constraints of daily life.
“This is one reason South African firms pioneered self-service cash ’n carry wholesaling internationally. Cash ’n carry wholesalers helped get products to small retailers in the most financially constrained circumstances, and provided opportunities for families to buy food and toiletries in bulk,” he said.
He said savings clubs of one kind or another through bulk purchase were a common phenomenon around the world.
“Bulk buying is a savings strategy employed by people in all walks of life around the world.
“For example, many wealthy consumers worldwide belong to bulk-buying schemes such as wine clubs to experience different wines and save.”
The world was “in the midst of a significant transition that is affecting the nature of work and economies. It makes sense to think more carefully than you might have in the past when spending money,” he said.
“Taking advantage of specials . . . can lead to savings that stack up over time to become much bigger than one might think.
“And you can do it without really inconveniencing yourself or lowering your standard of living.”
Ncumisa Ndelu holds up proof of the savings she makes by targeting goods that are on special.