Mil Money

Here are some of the deals at your commissary’s sidewalk sale

Whether you’re restocking your house after your PCS move this summer, getting ready to send the kids back to school, or just looking for some bargains on the things you use every day, check out your local commissary’s sidewalk sale.

Most commissaries around the world are holding these sales, generally over one weekend between now and the end of September, for two or three days. We counted 43 commissaries — ranging from the Air Force Academy to Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona — that are holding their sales this weekend. Click here to find out the dates of your commissary’s sale. Not all commissaries are participating: those in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Pensacola Naval Air Station, Florida, are not.

Some commissaries are teaming up with their nearby military exchange for certain promotions linked to their event.

There will be specials in all departments inside the stores as well. The savings vary by store location, but it’s up to 50 percent off regular commissary prices on some items.

According to information provided by the Defense Commissary Agency, the sidewalk sales will feature savings on:

  • diapers, baby wipes
  • foods such as school lunch fixings, after-school snacks, breakfast cereals, bottled water, canned fruits and vegetables; boxed drinks, soda, tea, cheese, yogurts, cheese, yogurts. Also offered are some international foods such as Italian, Asian and Hispanic items; cookies, brownies, pancakes and muffin mixes; and ice cream and frozen hamburgers, chicken and sausage.
  • sandwich, storage and freezer bags; and paper products and cleaning supplies such as bathroom tissue, fabric softener sheets and laundry detergents.
  • pet food, pet treats, cat litter.
  • health and beauty items such as soaps and body lotions; shampoo.

Individual stores choose which sale items they’ll offer.

These sales were previously commonly known as case lot sales. Besides the case lot formats like those found in commercial club stores, commissary sidewalk sales will also offer some “mix and match” packages of similar items in bulk-size cases.

Check in with your local commissary store manager for more details and updates, and to make sure the sidewalk sale is still scheduled on the date noted on the website.

Commissaries exist to provide a benefit to eligible military shoppers by selling discount groceries. According to the latest savings comparisons, commissary shoppers save an average overall of 22.2 percent, compared to civilian grocery stores in the U.S. commissary shoppers overseas save an average of 43.8 percent. Shoppers’ savings vary by region.

In April, Consumer Reports cited military commissaries as one of the 13 national and regional chains with the lowest grocery prices. The report was based on a survey of more than 75,000 Consumer Reports members.

Some tips:

  • Before you go, decide how much you can spend. If you use a credit card to make your purchases, consider how long it will take to pay off those purchases. If you can’t pay off the credit card in the first month, the interest charges you pay could wipe away any savings.
  • Take stock of what’s already in the pantry. Be mindful of the amount of storage space you have. Before you buy a year’s worth of toilet paper, consider where you’ll store it. And consider whether you’ll be able to stuff all your bargains into your vehicle in order to get them home.
  • Bring your coupons with you, including those offered by manufacturers that you upload to your commissary rewards card, at
  • Be ready to use your calculator, and compare prices. As a grocery shopper, whether it’s at the commissary, local civilian stores, or both, you’re generally aware of regular prices. Make sure you compare unit prices – for example, prices per ounce in canned goods and bottled water, or price per diaper. While a bigger quantity is often the best deal, it’s a good idea to check unit prices, because sometimes the smaller package actually is the best buy.

Members of industry work closely with commissaries to make sure there’s enough product on hand at the stores for these extra sales.

For example, because of the store-unique nature of the sidewalk sales, Coastal Pacific Food Distributors’ field representatives work with each commissary and with the manufacturers, to make sure CPFD knows which items and which manufacturers have been selected, said Richard Page, executive vice president at CPFD, one of the distributors providing manufacturers’ products to commissaries. CPFD asks the individual commissaries to submit advance orders to make sure enough inventory is on hand for the sale, and the company also coordinates the delivery dates and any equipment needs.

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