Looking for ways to save money on common everyday items and more? Weekly Ads & Sales – coupons, local deals, circulars, grocery savings, store locator and sunday ad (by SlaVanya LLC) just might be the Free iPhone and iPad app to help you do that. Like its extremely long title implies, this Catalog app is supposed to provide weekly ads and sales for 96,000+ US stores (including 100+ major retailers) for items at grocery stores, pharmacies, department/retail stores, appliance and electronic centers, home improvement centers, and others. In this app you’ll be able to search and browse your potential savings using a few categories like Stores, Browse (by state), Sales, and Coupons.
Excited by the prospects, I dove into the app with high hopes. The user interface is really simple, only 6 giant red button icons on a blue background to select from (Stores, Browse, Sales, Coupons, Rate App, and Upgrade). There’s no info or help button to be found anywhere, but it’s not a big deal because the app is pretty self explanatory. After allowing the app to use my GPS location, I put it to work finding Stores nearest me, which brought up a range of stores from 5 to 13.5 miles away, and listed them from closest to farthest distance. All listed stores have a colored dot next to them (red, green, purple) to help categorize them. That’s my guess since there isn’t an explanation (green: grocery store, red: pharmacy, and purple: everything else). A red checkmark next to a store means there are available deals to be found for the listed store. When looking at Store Details, you do get a nice overall list of all the available items in the Deals section, which shows the weekly ads, special savings circulars (ex: Toys, Holiday Savings), discount cards, shows clothing category — whatever is appropriate for the type of store you’re looking at.
There are a lot of stores I know and shop within this app, however, a quick store search didn’t locate a couple of stores that I normally shop at such as Ulta and Bed Bath & Beyond (these have printed ads), which was strange since there are stores listed within the app that are also in the same shopping center — but apparently not their database. However, this app does have plenty of names you’ll know: Best Buy, Kmart, Macy, JC Penney, Target, Toys R Us, and the list goes on. You can also search by state (Browse icon), which brings up a ton of cities and the number of stores available next to the city name within the app — these stores are listed alphabetically. In just about all the areas of the application you can pull store information, map location and get directions. If you prefer to search by categories, check out the Coupon icon, which has alphabetized sale items categorized for your local listing — for me: All (298), Apparel (2), Foods (110), Professional (1), Restaurant (4), Toys and Games (6), etc. Walmart even has its own category (247 items). Or try the Sales search to pull up weekly ads for nearby stores, listed in random order by distance from your current location.
To check out Weekly Ads & Sales accuracy, I compared the printed sale ads that came in the mail from my local Walmart to the ads shown in the app: the printed Walmart version was 8 pages long like the app showed, and all items were the same, as well as prices, except 1 noticeable difference, which was on the front of my mailed flyer: there were 2 bottles of wine on the front page, but the app had a big pie in place of the wine instead — hmmm? I also checked the app’s Save a Lot weekly ad, and am happy to say it was exactly the same as the printed version. However, I also compared a mailed/printed ad for a local grocery store, Sweetbay SuperMarket, when doing a search for the Stores function, it showed up on the list, but the app said there were no available deals for this particular store. But, I had Sweetbay’s weekly sales ad in my hand — hmm? When I searched Sweetbay using the Browse (state/listed city) function, it didn’t even show up as a listed store for me. So, obviously it’s good practice to cross-reference both the Browse (specific state/city) and Stores function. I also checked the timeliness of the local stores ads within the app to see if they were up-to-date: Walgreens, yes; Family Dollar, yes; Winn Dixie, no ad supplied; and Best Buy, yes.
There is a paid version (Weekly Ads & Sales pro with shopping list) for $1.99, which was updated July 2012, and gives you the convenience of creating a favorite list, but after reading a few of the iTunes (user) reviews, it sounds like most people are more content with the Free version until some of the app’s functionality is tweaked. Personally, I find this Free iPhone and iPad app useful because I don’t have to deal with all the numerous and messy newspaper circulars, it’s easier to comparison shop, and gives me the convenience of putting a lot of sales info in 1 easy location (on my iPhone or iPad), but the lack of several big name stores in my area, some missing ad information, uncertainty with information syncing across categories, and lack of a few key functionality features to make for a better user experience, tells me this app, while a great idea, could use a little more refinement to turn out something truly awesome. But for now, I can still put it to good use — and it is a Free app after all.
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