Loyalty cards. All sorts of stores have loyalty cards. Some provide a sign-up bonus or discount (which is how I got top-brand makeup this summer at L’etual (Л'этуаль)), while others have in-store daily deals for loyalty card holders. I always keep cards for Lenta, a warehouse-type supermarket, and for Okey, a more upscale supermarket. On a recent trip to Lenta I saved over 1,000 roubles by stocking up on everyday items alone – that line in the receipt made me particularly happy.
You can also store the cards in an app such Stocard on your phone, or add them to your Wallet App if you’re an iPhone owner. Alternatively, you can always use the excuse of borrowing someone’s card – a common practice in Russia – as a way to meet interesting strangers in line.
Tracking deals. Several of my friends use the EdaDeal app to track what’s on sale at various supermarkets around the city. This is an excellent way to fill up your freezer with pelmeni or stock up on rice, noodles and other staples with a long shelf life or buy a new teapot at half the price. Once you’ve found your deal, you can get your purchases delivered by a service like igooods.
Internet prices vs. retail prices. I discovered this nifty trick at Respublica bookstore. Apparently, the retail prices at the store can be higher than the online prices. Technically, you’re supposed to order online and then go to the store to pick it up, but if you ask nicely, a sales assistant might check for you if there’s a better deal for your item online, do their magic with the cash register and boom, you’re saving! Ask and you might receive.
Discounts in restaurants. It pays to select your next epicurean adventure from places that have advertised deals. A great number of restaurants chains – such as Ukrop, Ginza Project, or Greenbox – even have their own apps for loyal customers, so be on the lookout. If you’re celebrating your birthday, make sure to mention it and you might receive a discount or a dessert on the house, but don’t forget to bring your passport as proof!
Saving on bags. Plastic bags will cost you between two and ten roubles apiece, which can add up over the course of your Russian shopping career. A blue plastic bag from Ikea or some reusable bags do the trick for me every time. Or why not get a tote or produce bag from some of the city’s eco-friendly bag makers?
What’s the difference between buying something “по акции” is in on promotional offer or “на распродаже” is in “on sale”? Some might argue that the offer is, in fact, limited time and the same instant ramen will go back to its original price next week, while the sale is usually final. Either way, you get to save!