14 supermarket tricks you still fall for

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Have you ever noticed that most supermarkets look the same on the inside? You enter the store, immediately smell fresh bread, head in that direction, and then work your way, for the most part counterclockwise, around the store. The same items can be found in the same general areas, no matter where you’re shopping. Is this simply to establish a sense of familiarity for shoppers, or is there a more financially driven reason for the similar layouts?
Supermarket owners know a variety of tricks for convincing shoppers to spend more time and money in their stores, and they employ these at every possible opportunity. But don’t worry; it’s possible to avoid falling into these traps. You just have to know what to watch out for.
1. Bigger shopping carts
The first stop in the supermarket is usually to pick up a shopping cart. The longer you’ve been a shopper, the more likely you are to have noticed the change in cart size over the years. Shopping carts are now the largest they’ve ever been, as designers believe that if you have a bigger cart, you’ll continue adding items until it’s full.
The Star
2. Slow music
Do you ever stop to listen to the music playing over the store’s speakers? It’s usually a pretty laid-back, mellow mix of songs. Music experts have learned that people tend to subconsciously react to the music they hear; therefore, if the music is slower, they move through the store more slowly, giving them the opportunity to find more items to purchase.
3. Good smells up front
One of the first sections in any supermarket is the bakery. You smell the freshly baked bread immediately upon entering the store, and you’re naturally drawn toward it. The bakery is up front because the smell of the bread helps to put customers in a good mood, which entices them to stay in the store and shop longer.
Daily Mail
4. Individual pieces of meat
At the meat counter, most people choose the convenience of buying individually packaged cuts of meat. The workers behind the meat counter know that this is a clever sales trick. It’s actually significantly cheaper to buy a larger cut of meat and ask to have it separated into the smaller pieces you want.
Country Life
5. Pre-cut fruits and vegetables
Similarly to the meat, it’s more convenient to buy fruits and vegetables that are already cut, packaged, and ready to eat. However, just like the meat, the fruits and vegetables are much cheaper if you buy them whole and chop them yourself.
US News Health
6. Items at eye level
Have you ever noticed that the more expensive, sugary cereals are in the center of the shelves, while the healthier options and generic brands are either on the top or bottom shelves? This is done intentionally to draw your eyes toward the more popular, brand name cereals. Grocery clerks do this with many of the items they want people to buy. So if you’re looking for a good bargain, don’t go for the items placed at eye level.
USA Today
7. Reorganized shelves
While grocery stores tend to look the same all the time, every once in awhile you’ll notice that an item you frequently buy is no longer in its usual location. Store managers occasionally reorganize the products so you have to go looking for them. This causes you to wander down aisles you usually skip, exposing you to new items you might impulsively buy.
Progressive Grocer
8. Endcaps
The end of every aisle is usually reserved for specific products. Based on how in-your-face these items seem to be placed, shoppers often assume that this signifies a great sale. In actuality, companies have paid to have their products displayed more prominently, so it’s likely that you’ll pay more for items stocked on the endcaps of each aisle.
RFC Wire Forms
9. Partnering food
Have you ever noticed that the chips are shelved right above the salsa? And peanut butter is usually just an arm’s reach from the jelly. This makes shopping more convenient, right? You can simultaneously buy two items that belong together. But how often do you really run out of both items at the same time? It’s unlikely that you just happen to be out of chips and salsa at the same time, but the shelves are stocked with the hope that you’ll see one item and automatically reach for its partner as well, even if you don’t need both.
Shopper Scientist
10. Checkout lane items
Once you’ve finally made it through the store, you assume you can make it out without any more purchases. But you’ve forgotten about the checkout lane; the most likely area for impulse shopping. After all, you’re waiting line anyway, so you might as well drop a few candy bars, packs of gum, magazines, or other small non-necessities into your cart before it’s your turn at the counter. All of these items are cheap, so it won’t make too much difference on the bill. But these small items add up quickly when you’re stuck in line for a while and just keep grabbing more.
Star Tribune
11. Tight checkout lanes
After you’ve finished grabbing a few last-minute items from the checkout lane, you’re starting to think that maybe you don’t need everything that’s in your cart. But it’s too late now. You’re almost to the counter and there isn’t enough room in the checkout lane for you to inconspicuously ditch some of your purchases. The checkout lanes are intentionally designed this way so shoppers don’t have enough room to dump items they’ve decided they don’t want. Your only options are to admit to the cashier that you don’t want something, lose your place in line to put it back, or just go ahead and buy it.
Express UK
12. Buying in bulk
Most people assume that buying items in bulk is cheaper. Sure, you pay a little more, but you also get significantly more product. But do you really need that much? If you have a large family or are buying items for a large event, buying in bulk makes complete sense. But may people who buy food items in bulk won’t actually be able to use all of it before the expiration date. Before you buy something in bulk, make sure you’ll actually get your money’s worth by comparing the size to price ratio with a smaller version of the item.
The Krazy Koupon Lady
13. Newspaper inserts
Newspapers often include inserts filled with advertisements for local supermarkets. These inserts frequently offer coupons and information about sales, inspiring you to grab your purse and head for the store. However, a lot of the advertisements listed are just that. Advertisements. Shoppers assume that everything in the insert is on sale, but that’s only true of items specifically marked as discounted. Make sure you check which items are actually cheaper before you rush off after a seemingly great deal.
The Krazy Koupon Lady
14. Ten-for-$10 promotions
Who doesn’t get excited about 10-for-$10 promotions? You get 10 items for $10! That’s $1 per item! But have you ever checked the price of those same items in the days before or after the promotion? Most often, the items used in the 10-for-$10 deal normally cost about 89 cents each. So instead of getting what appears to be a great deal, you’re really paying an extra 11 cents for each item.
Kroger Couponing
Grocery shopping can be rather enjoyable if you know you’re getting your money’s worth and don’t feel like you’re being swindled. And with the help of this list, you’ll know what kind of tricks to watch out for next time you’re wandering the aisles with your larger-than-necessary grocery cart. Make sure to share this list on Facebook so your friends can also keep an eye out for these common supermarket tricks.
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