Sneaky tricks supermarkets use to make us spend more…

full shopping cartI don’t usually just repost press reelases that come into my mailbox (though I sure get a lot of them) but this one piqued my interest and I thought you might enjoy it too, dear reader. It’s from Andrea Woroch who is apparently a nationally recognized consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. Do I recognize her name? No. But perhaps you do. 🙂

Still, interesting information…

1. Super sized often proves undervalue.
Bigger isn’t always better, particularly when a manufacturer increases package size while hitting the contents with a shrink ray. This practice has become particularly popular in recent years since you’re not really expected to check whether a box or can is full.
Give it a shake or visually compare product contents.

2. Distance makes the cart grow bigger.
Ever notice how the things you need most frequently are the furthest away from the door? That’s intentional; supermarkets guide you through aisles of the most attractive foods, hoping you’ll give in to impulse buys.
If you only need one item, it’s actually cheaper in the long run to shop at a small market where you’ll be less tempted to buy unneeded items.

3. Bend and stretch your way to better deals.
Manufacturers pay big bucks for prime real estate, usually at adult eye level or, in the case of products marketed specifically to children, on the lower shelves. These corporations shell out extra cash because they know we’re more likely to buy something we can see easily.
Before you grab the first item you see, take a moment to scan the entire shelf and make sure you’re truly getting a good deal.

4. End caps aren’t your friend.
End caps are the shelving units at the end of each aisle, where supermarkets place “sale” items that aren’t always that cheap. They’re counting on our preference to avoid heading down an aisle, so we’ll just grab an end-cap item that seems reasonably priced.

supermarket endcapDon’t give in; wait until you can comparison shop midst the appropriate aisle. Better yet, find grocery coupons on your smartphone from sites like, and see if the product on your list is available at a discount.

5. Lowering your bill with loss leaders.
There’s a reason supermarkets advertise such cheap prices on milk, bread and other basics. These under-priced items are known as loss leaders because the supermarket is willing to take a loss to bait you into the store, where they’ll make up the difference with more purchases.
There’s no reason you shouldn’t take advantage of loss leaders; just don’t let it rule which store you shop and what you buy.

6. Bulk deals can be a no-go.
Deals that offer “seven for $5.50” are designed to confuse shoppers who aren’t quick with the mental calculator. The same trick applies to the now popular 10 for $10 game making the supermarket rounds.
Bulk buying can be cost effective, but there are a number of variables to consider. You can fool grocery stores at their own game by checking the unit price for competing products and selecting the one that truly offers the best deal.

7. Packaging is all just eye candy.
Product packaging is usually mind-bogglingly bright, featuring plenty of yellows and reds because these colors attract our eyes. Between this visual whirl and the bright store lights, grocery shopping can lead to migraines.

supermarket produce sectionBuying generic brands is one of many ways to combat escalating food prices. Before grabbing the first item that attracts your eyes, look for less-gaudy house brands and compare unit prices.

8. Something sure smells good…
The bombardment starts as soon as the front door swings open. Those mouth-watering smells emanate from the nearby bakery or deli, enticing you to buy the more expensive prepared foods. A grocer in New York City even pipes artificial smells into its facility to induce shoppers to buy more.

supermarket bakeryThe rule, as you’ve often heard, is to never shop on an empty stomach.

9. The checkout lane is a market’s last chance.
The checkout aisle is akin to its own mini mart, featuring all kinds of impulse buys. Supermarkets know we’re a captive audience, so they squeeze in everything and anything that might grab your attention and add to the final bill.
Distract yourself by reviewing your grocery list, a tangible reminder that everything you need is already in your cart.

Now, given that list, how many of these things tend to work with you? Next time you’re at the supermarket keep all of this in mind and hopefully find you can make smarter purchase decisions and stop spending so darn much $$ at the store!

5 comments on “Sneaky tricks supermarkets use to make us spend more…

  1. Not sure what to say, Greg. Sorry you don’t find the article more valuable, I just thought it was interesting to be reminded of some of the tricks that supermarkets use to spur us to buy more stuff.

  2. I liked this article. Handy one to keep in Instapaper or Evernote on my phone and pull out at the supermarket nice time I visit.
    Always remember, eye-level is buy-level! As you say, the best deals or products are not necessarily at that level.

  3. Wow, Greg. A strong reaction to some info some of us haven’t come acrossed before. I’m sure you’d have written the article far better yourself, but since we don’t have the beenfit of your supreme writing skills, we’ll just have to settle for this drivel.
    Thanks for sharing this Dave. Shame there are so many arrogant, rude people around. I really appreciate the insight, I’ll be keeping it in mind next time I pop into the shops for some milk.

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