Save Time Shopping - Top 10 Ways

How much time do you spend shopping each year? Apparently, the average American shopper spends over 11 hours per week making purchases. While the typical household makes an incredible 500 trips a year to the shops. That is a lot of time. If you would rather spend less time at the shops then consider these time saving shopping tips:

shopping time

1. Learn to shop like a ‘satisfier’ (and not a ‘maximiser’)

A ‘maximiser’ shopper must search and search until they find the best value deal. On the other hand, a ‘satisfier’ shopper spends less time shopping by being content with finding products that are reasonably priced. If you want to spend less time shopping then shop like a satisfier.

2. Plan ahead and reduce the number of shop visits

Think about all the time involved in replenishing the stock at home - driving, parking, shopping, transactions, packing, unpacking, etc. The number of shop visits can be reduced by – bulk buys to reduce the number of replenishments (e.g. – buy enough cereal to last a few months); buying quality and longer lasting goods (e.g. – long life batteries, products with longer warranties); check items are in stock before leaving home; and batching your shop visits (e.g. – making one multi-purpose trip to the shops instead of say three independent visits).

3. On-line shopping

The internet allows us to shop for a wide variety of products without the time sacrifice of travelling to and from the shops. On-line services can provide home (or work) delivery.

4. Outsource, delegate or share your shopping

Can someone else do the shopping for you? Perhaps you could hire a personal shopper to research and buy goods for you. Perhaps another household member could do the shopping. In our household my wife loves to do the shopping and I am happy for her.

5. Shop at non-peak times

If you shop in non-peak times you can save time due to easier parking and shorter queues. If you want to know the best times to avoid – use the following as an indicator (based on US figures):
  • The busiest shopping days are Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  • The busiest shopping time during weekdays is late afternoon.
  • On weekends the peak time is between 10am to 3:30pm.

6. Give gift vouchers

Lets face it - how often do we give or receive unwanted gifts. It is not hard to figure out why there is a lot of eBay activity after Christmas. There are at least two advantages from using gift vouchers - (i) the receiver gets what they want, and (ii) quick and easy to purchase.

7. Prepare shopping check lists (and stick to them).

Shopping without knowing what you need is bound to waste time (and probably result in extra purchases). Consider maintaining two shopping lists – one for regularly purchase items (e.g – milk. and fresh fruit), and another list for adding ad-hoc items that need replenishing. (e.g – light bulbs, detergent).

8. Shop at work.

Two ways to save time at work include: (a) Shop in your lunch break – it means one less thing to do when go home; and (b) Consider using a ‘office delivery’ (as opposed to home delivery) service for your groceries and other goods.

9. Stick with brands you trust

It takes time to decide between all the product offering we are bombarded with today. So once you find a brand or product you trust then stick with them.

10. Buy less

How much time do we spend buying things we don’t really need? Each year billions of dollars are spent on items that rarely if ever get used. I cringe at thinking about all the time and money I have wasted on unnecessary purchases. We could all save time by buying less.

Bonus Tip - Make use of product comparison websites

These sites take the hard work out of researching and choosing the right product. One of the best is Consumer Search which was included in Time magazine's top 50 websites for 2009.
Do you have any time saving shopping tips? Please let us know by leaving a comment.

Related CraveTime articles


  • American Time Use Survey, Purchasing Goods and Services, 2008 figures,
  • Goodman, John. “Who Does the Grocery Shopping, and when do they do it”, Oct 2008,


Thanks Steve, Good tips. We are thinking about getting fresh veg delivered but it will require me to be more organised with planning meals. Cheers Christine

Thanks Steve, I have started online shopping for groceries recently, and I find it really saves a lot of time and effort for me. Regards Priya

Great Ideas! Quite often I find that if I spend a little time organising, I am able to save much more time. A while ago I set up a 4 week menu plan (it took around 1/2 hour) which included all meals & snacks. From that menu plan I was able to do an 8 week shop (which only took an extra 1/2 hour than a normal shop to do). Before I started to plan, I would have spent at least 12 hours shopping and probably 30 hours deciding what to cook/eat for dinner in an 8 week period. Now I just need the the 2 hours to do the once off shop and there is no time spent making decisions on what to have for dinner! I am also able to save time cooking double batches - it cooks in the same amount of time and gives me a night off when I get really busy! Hey Christine - we buy our fruit and veg online each week. It takes literally 2 mintues from start-checkout! It really is worth it! Karen :-)

Shopping like a ‘satisfier’ (and not a ‘maximiser’) definitely saves a lot of time. Actually I've just proved to myself how much time can be wasted when shopping as a maximiser.

I went to the shop to purchase a simple white T-shirt. The first shop I went to I found exactly what I needed and in my size and it was a reasonable price. I was a bit annoyed though that so much in the store was on sale, just not the one thing I wanted. So I decided to look elsewhere and I went into Myer, a massive department store, that was having a store-wide sale. It took me a long time to get to right section, asking for directions and finally found the T-shirt I wanted on level 4 of the store. Only problem was that all the normal sizes were gone. There were a few tiny ones and a few gigantic ones left. I had just spent about 30min trying to save a few dollars. Now I'm going to have to go back another day because I've run out of time today.

That was a good lesson for me. Get what satisfies the need at a reasonable price and don't waste lots of time trying to find that elusive bargain.