There are a range of options where you can go to do your grocery shopping. You can shop locally for essential items and in some areas local shops may have better stocks of speciality items.
Local markets are also good for picking up bargains or buying food in bulk but on the whole consumers rely on supermarkets to pick up their weekly shop.
All of the following will stock seasonal produce and run special offers, they can vary in price and quality.
Cheapest with alternative named brands and household promotions:
Unfortunately, neither of these supermarkets offer delivery services.
Iceland stock a large range of frozen food as well as other groceries, and this shop does offer delivery.
Medium range with known brands and home delivery services:
Higher price range but some higher quality goods:
Marks & Spencer offer a range of goods; in addition to full department stores they have separate food stores, but this cannot be ordered online from Marks & Spencer.
Ocado is an online-only grocery delivery service, offering Marks & Spencer branded groceries and other known brands.
Do any shops offer a student discount on food?
Check out any supermarkets that offer student discounts on Totum.
Money saving tips for supermarkets
Home brands: When buying your groceries, home brands are usually cheaper than famous brands and might even taste the same. So, if you don’t mind the plain packaging, go for the home brand.
Price reductions: Many supermarkets reduce their prices in store at certain times during the day, often at the end of the day. If you’re using your local supermarket in person, take note of when you might get reduced items. But of course even if it’s “on sale”, it’s only a good buy if you will use it!
Store cards: Some supermarkets have store savings cards that allow you to collect points (e.g. Tesco club card or Nectar card for Sainsbury’s) which can be used to gain vouchers or redeem it for something else (like a free meal to Pizza Express) in the future.
Coupons: Coupons are also a great way to save. Find out more with the MoneySavingExpert. Most coupons are available online as a code so can be used paperless.
Most household essentials can be found in the large supermarkets in the list mentioned above, but often options will vary depending on the size of the store, if you’re shopping in-person.
Other shops offering household items, all of which can be ordered online include:
Accessibility to shops will vary; for example, you are likely to find an Argos in most town centres or high streets. But increasingly homeware stores are moving to larger out-of-town shopping centres or retail parks; for example, IKEA is usually in a retail park and most accessible by car.
Most stores offer ‘click & collect’ options and delivery and can be ordered online. We recommend checking their delivery options and returns policies before ordering.
Medicines, toiletries & beauty products
Many of these types of products including basic medicines like painkillers, can be found in every supermarket. Some supermarkets even have a pharmacy counter. Independent pharmacies are also low-cost suppliers of the toiletries, vitamins, first aid necessities and beauty items.
For medicines on prescriptions, remember to register with a GP first. Many GP practices have pharmacies attached or very nearby, which can be the most convenient option for obtaining your medicines. If you’re unsure where to use, the reception at your GP practice should be able to advise of the nearest pharmacy.
Pharmacies can also offer help and clinical advice to manage minor health concerns and offer ‘over-the-counter’ medicines – these are medicines dispensed by pharmacists but which don’t require a prescription from your doctor. For more detail, refer to the NHS guidance on pharmacy help & 'over-the-counter’ medicine.
These are chain shops which can be found on most high streets:
Both shops offer a wide selection of toiletries, beauty products and many of their stores have a pharmacy counter as well.
Collect points and save money
Both Boots & Superdrug, and other stores of this type offer store cards to collect points. Which shop you’re using, if you use it regularly it could be worth seeing if they have points cards. Accumulatively, that could save you quite a bit.
Ryman is part of a chain of stationery shops, offering a wide selection of office stationery and furniture.
Paperchase has more luxury items and gifts.
WHSmith offers a wide range of stationery items, including art & craft supplies
Wilko offers many items at quite low prices, from stationery to bedding to toiletries
The Range is more accessible online since most shops are in retail parks, but offers a range of stationery, arts & craft and household items for fairly low prices.
Many of these types of shops offer student discounts, for which you may need to present a Totum card or sometimes your student ID card will be sufficient.
These are some bookshops that sells a large range of books from fiction, academic books, travel guides, etc:
Amazon can also offer second-hand books which can be cheaper than buying new, but often in very good condition
Many of these type of shops offer student discounts, for which you may to present a Totum card or sometimes your student ID card will be sufficient.
Other useful shops
Buying in charity shops is a great way to save money (as they are very cheap), as well as a good way to donate to their cause. Likewise, if you have items that you do not wish to use anymore, instead of merely throwing them away, usable items can be donated to charity shops.
Have a look on your high street for:
Some of these have started offering online shopping, so why not try this as an alternative for some of your shopping needs, especially for clothing, which supports good causes and is a more sustainable option. Check out your local high street – there may be many other charity shops in your area not named in our list.
Sales & discounts
Shopping when there’s a sale is a great way to save money. But only buy the item if you will definitely use it.
Remember to check if an item’s price has really been reduced by using comparison websites to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.
- Student discounts: One of the perks of being a student are the discounts you can get. Always check to see if there’s a student discount available in-store and online.
- Visit Save the Student and the Money Saving Expert for deals and discounts.
- If you would like to get a student discount app but don’t want to pay a subscription fee, check out UNiDAYS or StudentBeans. These are free popular apps where you sign up using your student email and get access to deals offered by popular brands.
- Seasonal sales: Most retail shops have seasonal sales such as ‘Spring sales’, so plan ahead to get the best deal possible. If there’s something you’d like but don’t need it right now, it can pay to wait a month or two, as sales tend to come around often. That top could be half-price next month!
- Loyalty schemes: Getting a loyalty card from your local supermarket or other shops will let you earn points for your purchases and give you access to discounts and deals.
- Important to know: Remember to read the terms & conditions of loyalty schemes as they may charge you a fee. Check out Save the Student to find out the perks of a range of loyalty cards.