Behind all the friendly adverts, supermarkets have just one aim: to make you spend as much as possible. It’s a tug of war between you and the large supermarket chains battling for the contents of your purse.
We’ve listed some of the ‘mind games’ supermarkets play to make you shop more than you should. Here are the top 10 tricks to look out for:
Trick 1: An apparent ‘drop’ in prices
Sometimes a supermarket will reduce the price on some daily necessities (such as milk) drastically, while increasing the price on others (such as eggs). Just like betting shops, supermarkets count on getting more out of you than you out of them.
Beat the supermarket: Look at the prices in a cool-headed manner. Don’t jump to conclusions – just because the price of a pint of milk has gone down, check that the price of your other essentials haven’t gone up. Compare supermarket prices online here.
Trick 2: Extra-large shopping trolley
Yes, you heard us right. Extra-large shopping trolleys are all part of the ploy to make you spend more. They are conveniently located near the entrance. You might very well have intended to purchase just a few items but you end up spending loads more. There is something about an empty shopping trolley navigating through the aisles of a supermarket that brings out the hidden spendthrift in us.
Beat the supermarket: If you’re out shopping for a few items, choose a hand basket rather than a shopping trolley.
Trick 3: The useful stuff is at the back of the store
Milk, eggs, butter and bread… all normal day to day items in most households. So why do supermarkets make them so hard to get to? More often than not, the most useful stuff is right at the back of the store where you have to navigate through aisles jam-packed with stuff designed to spend you more. How about that 2-for1 jar of pickles that has suddenly appeared out of nowhere in your shopping trolley, or the extra-large Kit-Kat on offer?
Beat the supermarket: Stick to your shopping list. (Find out why a shopping list is your most powerful money-saving weapon).
The useful stuff is at the back of the store
Trick 4: Eyeing the expensive stuff
Supermarkets often place the most expensive brands at eye level. Cheaper brands tend to be stocked nearer the floor or high up on the shelf, forcing you to stoop down or reach up. This is because supermarkets want you to buy the more expensive products, as the profit margins are higher.
Beat the supermarket: Keep your eyes peeled – have a quick scan of the lower shelves to see if there’s a better deal.
Also, don’t be fooled by fancy packaging. Many own brand products are indistinguishable from the more expensive big brands. If you can’t tell the difference between the cheaper and the more expensive brand, why pay more?
Trick 5: Flowers, fresh bread and impulsive shopping
Flowers and freshly baked bread are placed strategically to give you that rush of dopamine (happy hormones) that is associated with impulse buying. And supermarket bakeries will always pump out the smell of baking bread to tempt hungry shoppers…
Beat the supermarket: Enjoy it but don’t get swayed – and don’t go shopping hungry if you can possibly avoid it (you’ll buy a lot more food than normal!)
Trick 6: Making you all misty eyed
Some supermarkets spray a fine mist on their fresh produce. In the short term, it makes fruit look extra fresh and shiny. But actually, damp fruit and vegetables tend to not last as long and rot faster.
Beat the supermarket: A dewy glossy look need not mean freshness. It always pays to check fruits and vegetables for freshness by hand. Don’t chuck fruit and veg in your basket without checking it first.
Trick 7: S-l-o-w-i-n-g things down
We have all had battles in supermarket aisles where either party refuses to back down and reverse their shopping trolley. The thing is, supermarkets love to slow you down, often making aisles tough to navigate by plonking product offers at natural turning points. (After all if you’d sped right by, there is no way you would have bought that overpriced bottle of wine…)
Beat the supermarket: A firm grasp on the shopping list and a complete disregard for all temptations around you is your best defence!
Trick 8: The queue
Checkout queues are lined with chewing gum, candy, and little torches that run out of steam after first use. It is all cleverly calibrated to appeal to your impulses (and your kids!). Not only are you attacked by offers for half-price sweets, but also practical day to day items that make you go, “Oh! Might as well have that”.
Beat the supermarket: Think before you buy at a checkout queue. Do you need it? Will you use it?
Trick 9: Making parents pay through their noses
There is a very good reason why toy aisles are located near the entrance of the store and kids’ cereals are located at their eye level. Research shows that we are more likely to buy stuff that we have touched and examined… or stuff that has been thrust into our faces by an insistent child screaming, “Pleeeeeeeeeassssseeeee!”
Beat the supermarket: Hmm… don’t take your kids shopping?
Or why not set the kids a shopping challenge: make it clear that they can choose one thing – but one thing only – to put in the basket.
Trick 10: Reach for the back
One of the sneaky tricks that Supermarkets often use is to put fresher produce further back, and display stuff near its sell-by date at the front (as obviously they want to shift that stock first).
So whether you want a pizza with a better ‘best before’ date or a fresher piece of fruit, it’s often worth looking beyond the products stacked at the front – and having a look at the produce that’s stored further back.
Beat the supermarket: Don’t take the first item off the shelf. Have a rummage!
Other ways to beat the supermarket at their own game
- Planning the weekly shop? Don’t buy a thing until you’ve checked out our Supermarket Best Buys, packed full of discounts and offers on your household essentials
- Discover how to earn cashback at the supermarket
- Getting groceries delivered? Find out how to cut supermarket delivery costs
- Beware BOGOF deals
- Find out which supermarket has the best price promise
- And don’t forget to make a shopping list!