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How grocery stores get you to spend more money

Grocery stores do not lay out their aisles in a haphazard manner. There is a reason for putting every single item exactly where it is located. They want you to spend more money. If you are aware of their tricks, you can beat them at their own game.

A special offer is no deal if you don’t need what they’re offering. If you can get three items for the cost of two, it might be a savings but only if you need the three items. Stores rely on the fact that people see “special offer” and subconsciously think “I should buy that.” If you need it, that’s fine but, if you don’t, you can save even more money by walking away.

The most expensive brands get the most prominent place on the shelf. The cheaper, and usually identical, products will be placed on shelves not in your direct line of sight. If you need salt, there is no reason to buy the most expensive brand, even if it is on sale. The generic salt is no less salt than the stuff in the blue box with the little girl on it.

Buy the product, not the packaging. There’s a reason why generic products are placed in bland packaging. The stores know that shoppers are attracted to the more interesting packaging of the expensive products. The packaging ends up in the garbage or recycling. Ignore it. More often than not generic products come from the same place as the more expensive versions. Even in those cases where there is a difference between the two, it’s most likely something which doesn’t affect the quality of the product.

Grocery stores are laid out in such a way that you go through the aisles containing items you can easily do without first. Very often the first aisle has the bakery section. If the baked goods were at the end of the store, you might think twice about adding them to your already full shopping cart.

Watch out for impulse shopping. Grocery stores put things at the ends of the aisle and by the checkout that they want you to pick up absent-mindedly. That’s why the candy bars are at the checkout. You get there and you think, “Hey, I deserve a treat.” Make a shopping list and learn to stick to it even if it means leaving something you think you can use.

© 2017 Gary J. Sibio. All rights reserved.


What do you think?

Written by Gary J Sibio


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  1. I only shop at 2 grocery stores and neither can get me to spend more money because my husband gives me a spending limit. If only I could go on a shopping spree! 🙂 I’d probably be so excited I wouldn’t know what to buy. 😀

      • I am so used to buying the same things at the same stores, I know when I’ve reached a certain dollar amount. When my kids were much younger and I had a lot of grocery shopping to do all the time, I actually got to a point where I could judge by the weight of a grocery store cart, how much the groceries would cost. I didn’t actually weigh the cart but if I pushed it slightly forward and pulled it backward, I could guess by the feel of the weight about how much I would be paying when I got to the cash register. LOL.

  2. I never buy products on offer because I have worked in a very famous chain for eight years. There are many countries in Europe. I know how prices are set. Gary is very right. Be careful how you are shopping.

  3. Very good analysis, Gary. I do my main shopping in Aldi – a German supermarket chain that, for the most part, stocks only generic goods, but they are of course not averse to employing most of the other tricks you mention! I don’t think you have Aldi in the US?

    • Yes, in fact there is an Aldis very near my house. The problem with them is that they only carry very basic stuff. We do most of our grocery shopping at Walmart which is also very cheap but has a much better selection.

        • In the USA the company that runs Aldi’s also runs another chain of grocery stores called Trader Joe’s. They carry the imported stuff but are as expensive as Aldi’s is cheap.

          There are also a ton of small grocery stores that cater to a particular ethnic group and one fairly large one that caters to a variety of different ethnic groups.

  4. I work at a grocery store and I’m in a department that supposedly does not make money, but attracts customers. I’m in the deli, where everyone comes for sliced meats, fried Chicken or a nice sandwich. So, while we don’t “make” money, we draw the crowds that make the rest of the store money.

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