QWhat do you think about comparison shopping sale items at different stores, and then asking them to match a low price? Is price matching worth the time?

A: Price matching usually refers to retailers matching the price of a big item such as an appliance or electronic device to that of a competitor. Stores that offer to match another's advertised price are willing to reduce profit to keep the buyer from shopping with a competitor. Luckily, some grocery chains offer price matching.

Many everyday-low-price stores offer to price-match. Prices at these stores do not follow the typical 12-week, high-low pricing cycle of a supermarket. Cereal may sell for $2.97 all year at the everyday-low-price store; at the supermarket, the box of cereal can fluctuate from a high of $3.99 to a low of $1.49.

Coupon shoppers tend to find the best deals at tradi-tional supermarkets. We go in when the price of an item is low and use coupons to cut the cost further. But price matching at an everyday-low-price store is an even better opportunity for savings, since we can persuade these stores into even lower prices to match their local competitors.

While it's always advisable to check your store's price-matching policies, most will allow shoppers to use coupons on the price-matched items.

As with any deal, there are possible pitfalls. It's worth finding out if the store limits the number of stores it will price match. Your regular store may not consider a supermarket 30 miles away to be a competitor, so it will refuse to match prices. But if it does, watch the ad and get the match. What a great way to save on gas!

Some stores are not likely to match promotions, such as "buy four and receive a $5 coupon good on your next shopping trip" offers. These often print at the register. While some of those offers are national, others are chain- specific. If there isn't a payback offer at the price-matching store, a store can't generate this coupon for you.

Beware of unique packaging or size of a product when price matching. Some price-matching policies specify that the store will match only the price of an identical item.

My best tip for price-matching? Save it for a hot sale, when the product you want is going fast at the original store. Rain checks might be an option at the sold-out store, but if you want the product right away, consider matching that ad at a store where the product isn't on sale. They'll likely have plenty in stock.

Jill Cataldo, is a coupon workshop instructor. Visit www.jillcataldo.com.