Save-A-Lot's store format is a limited-selection store, also known as an "edited assortment". A limited-selection store is one in which a store carries a small selection of popular items, usually only in the most common size. Save-A-Lot typically carries about 90% of customer's every day food needs. Save-A-lot stores have about 1,250 grocery items per store and restrict their store sizes to roughly 15,000 square feet (1,400 m²). They carry mainly brands that are not generally found in other stores (which they prefer to call "exclusive label brands"). Name brands are also found as "special buys" at very low prices.
Many stores lack grocery-store style shelving, and instead have the items in specially printed cut-out cardboard shipping cases on industrial-style shelving. Some stores (particularly in the southeast US) have standard grocery-store style shelving. Save-A-Lot customers typically bag their own groceries using available grocery bags. Some stores do not offer such bags free, charging extra for them: 3 cents for plastic "T-shirt" bags, 5 cents for paper grocery bags, 10 cents for reusable "poly" bags, and 99 cents for reusable cloth bags in order to keep grocery prices low. Some Save-A-Lot locations now bag groceries for the customers at no extra charge.