I've noticed an ongoing trend with Harris Teeter lately, maybe in the last 6-8 months or so (these are stores I've been shopping at for years): while they will put certain higher-end cuts of steak on sale in the flyer, there are usually very few packages of them available (if any) in the cases. Sometimes they will have the more expensive-label item in the butcher case, but none of the 'normal' label pre-packaged. Usually I don't have time to ask them to cut it for me and I end up not buying any.
Today I decided to try the HT at Meadowmont in Chapel Hill, not my usual store, but I remembered them being well-stocked in the past. My two main objectives this morning were the sirloin for 6.97 and the skirt steak for 4.99. The sirloin was nowhere to be found, and there was a single ~8oz piece of skirt steak in the cases. I had time, and I'd gone out of my way to actually buy this stuff, so I talked to the first kid I found at the counter. I had to show him the flyer with the sirloin before he even knew what I was talking about. Then he went to ask his boss. His boss proceeded to try to talk me into buying higher-priced, smaller-cut pieces of the black label sirloin at the butcher counter instead ($9/lb), talking about how the typical shoppers at his stores were 'portion conscious', and then finally gave in and cut me a piece of sirloin for the $6.97 price.
When I told the guy I always seemed to have problems actually FINDING any of the sale beef in the stores, he mumbled something about changes going on with the various local stores.
Meanwhile I asked if there was any more of the $4.99 skirt steak, and the younger guy said he needed to cut more. He wandered off for a while, and eventually I realized he wasn't specifically cutting it for me, he appeared to be breaking down a pretty big piece (maybe) so I figured I'd come back after I finished the rest of my shopping and see if I could grab some from the case when he was done.
Less than ten minutes later I was back. No other customers around, he had seemingly put ONE package of skirt steak in the case.
This has been going on for so long at this point that I really have to assume there is some bait-and-switch action occurring with these sales. I've tried multiple locations, multiple days of the week, multiple times of day. There are rarely more than one or two packages of any given sale steak cuts available, although strip steaks aren't as bad (but always, always have an inedible tendon running through them). I don't always have time to beg them to actually cut me some (or argue about whether they are even going to sell what's in their flyer, like I had to this morning).
I'm not sure what to do, food prices drought corn crop failure etc, but they need to stop advertising them if they aren't going to sell them.
Any suggestions? No, I cannot afford Whole Foods prices. I'm getting close to breaking down and getting a Sam's club membership. Thoughts?