Avoiding Supermarket Price Traps

By Martin Brown

groceriesThat friendly local supermarket you’ve been going to for years, filled with bright lighting, soothing colors, and exciting product displays is all designed with one thought in mind:

To spend a lot more money than you planned on spending.

That’s right. Everything in a modern supermarket is done with that one thought in mind: getting the customer to spend more money than they intended.

Don’t think that’s possible? Well then take a little shopping trip with Single Minded Women and we’ll show you how it’s done:

1. Distance between key items makes you roam the store. Ever notice that what we call the basics: milk, bread, meat, are arrayed in three separately distinct points around the store. For example meat, chicken, fish, are often in the very back. Milk and dairy products, cheese, yogurt, eggs, are often to the extreme left, bread products can be found on the extreme opposite right side of the store.

Don’t think that happened by accident? The idea is to get you to walk passed every other part of the store. Passing by the chips, the beverages, the cereals, the cosmetics, the magazines, the gift cards, and so much more as you go searching for that loaf of bread and that carton of eggs. For a grocery store to put “the basics” up front is as unthinkable as a Las Vegas casino putting the elevator banks just off the main lobby. No, you have to wind your way through the casino, often getting lost one or more times, before you find the elevators that will take you to your floor.

But the marketing games don’t stop there.

2. Specials on “endcaps” make you buy even more on impulse. Getting you to walk the entire store is also why so many of the “doorbuster” special items, big sale on Special K for example, can be found on an end cap display at the back of the cereal aisle. At certain times of the year, you can find sale displays at the front of the store, (turkey stuffing, cans of cranberries, etc. at Thanksgiving or Christmas for example) because grocers know that most shoppers at these times of year have a long list of items to pick up anyway. But for the other 48 weeks of the year, most of the really good buys are in the back of the store.

Grocers even take care to put more expensive items to the shopper’s right and sale items to the buyer’s left. Take salad dressings, as one example. Sale items will be generally on the two bottom shelves and or to the left side of a display section. Full retail items will be placed at eye-level or to your right. So if you’re thinking that your being left handed, and petit will save more money on your groceries, more often than not you’re right.

3. Impulse items: do you really need them? Have you noticed all those tempting little things are almost always placed near the checkout stand? Those expensive little chocolates or, the celebrity tell all magazines, are all designed to get you to say, “Oh what the heck, I deserve a little treat.”

In other words, buy on impulse.

There’s nothing evil or sinister in all this. It’s simply free enterprise. And if you want to wander the aisles and pick up items that you did not intend to buy, go right ahead and do just that. But, if you’re trying to stay on a budget, and you’re tired of seeing your credit card debt climb higher, rather than sinking lower, keep all of these simple tricks in mind.

Approach your shopping trip with a clear objective: to pick up just the items you need, and not all the things you don’t.

Looking at circulars, knowing what’s on sale, making a list of what you need, and sticking by that list will lead to a happy and unexpected result: a lower monthly grocery bill. And that means more money to buy the things you really want, lower your credit card debt, and perhaps save a little of your hard earned money for the future.