6 Grocery Store Tricks You Shouldn’t Fall For, But Probably Do




This is a guest post by Nick Simpson who works at Saving Star.

IMAGE CREDIT:  Some rights reserved by Polycart

IMAGE CREDIT:  Some rights reserved by Polycart

After literally millennia of selling goods to consumers, grocers have the art of the sale down to a science. The fact of the matter is that our buying habits, while diverse, aren’t all that complex. There are some basic techniques – tricks, even – that grocery stores use to increase their sales.

While you probably consider yourself a savvy shopper who’s immune to such manipulation, chances are pretty good you fall for some of these tricks, at least occasionally.

Here are some of the top grocery store tricks, as well as how you can avoid them:

Placement of convenience items. Do you know what the most common item that people shop for at the grocery store on an as-needed basis is? Milk. It makes you long for the days when the milk man delivered a quart each morning. Today, the milk is almost invariably located at the back of the store. The idea is that you’ll walk past those enticing fresh-baked cookies, or perhaps see that “two for one” sale on your favorite soup, and wind up making another purchase. Think about it: when was the last time you walked out with only the gallon of milk you went in for?

Premium items stored at eye level. If you’re looking for a can of green beans to go into a casserole recipe, you might not care whether you’re getting Green Giant, Del Monte, or even the store brand. Guess which one is placed at right around five feet from the floor? The most expensive of the three. The least expensive (usually the generic) is going to be placed at the bottom. Chances are there’s even a bright yellow tag somewhere between the two offering a discount – a discount that still makes the premium item more expensive.

Marking up complementary items. Retailers like to offer what are called “loss leaders.” Loss leaders are items that they sell at a loss (or in most cases it’s actually a minimal profit) in order to get you into the store. What you may not realize, however, is that stores often pair loss leaders with other, more expensive items. For example, if you walk into an electronics department to purchase a discounted remote control for your TV, there’s a pretty good chance that a display with the most expensive batteries for that remote will be right next to it (or at least nearby).

Volume sales. Stores can get very creative when it comes to getting you to purchase a number of items. One regional grocery store is famous for it’s “Buy 10, get the 11th free!” sales. With these sales, there are usually 20 or 30 items on sale, each for Php 50. For some of the items, this represents a 10-20% savings; for others, it’s pretty close to the normal retail price. By requiring you to buy 10 of the items, the store may not be making as much on each individual item but they’re getting you to spend more (and making more overall because of it).

Coupon confusion. Grocery stores take a number of different approaches to coupons. Some, for example, will match their sales to the coupons that they know manufacturers are currently putting out. This means you wind up saving significantly on a given item. However, some stores that offer store-based coupons will make sure that the full retail price is charged (before the coupon is applied) giving you a deal that’s not quite as good. Add in the sometimes-confusing policies on whether a given coupon should be doubled, and you’ll often wind up paying more than what you meant to.

Rewards for returning. One of the more popular approaches stores are using today is a cash back system where you have to come back into the store at a later date to use a given reward. So, for example, you might earn Php 250 in rewards on a given shopping trip. In your mind, you’ve saved Php 250  – even if you paid full retail price. However, statistics tell us that less than half of those rewards will be used before they expire. If you don’t get back to the store to use the rewards, you didn’t save a dime. Not only that, if you use the rewards coupon on another full-price item, you’re saving even less in the grand scheme of things.

By understanding some of the tricks retailers use to get you to spend more money, you can more appropriately plan your grocery trips so as to maximize savings.

Guest Author Bio

Nick Simpson is Social Media Coordinator at SavingStar, a leading provider of grocery coupons. SavingStar has pioneered the process of providing coupons online and has a rapidly growing customer base of happy shoppers that save money with their supermarket coupons technology.

About the Author Agnes Embile Jimenez


Agnes is a full-time online freelancer. She's currently doing the things she loves while maintaining a frugal lifestyle. This blog is all about her struggles to live a frugal life, her quest to see the world via budget traveling, and her love to share to other people (via blogging) everything that she is passionate about.

Agnes does not absolutely conform to any beliefs or philosophies. Though she's writing about frugal living and is currently embracing the minimalist lifestyle, she doesn't want to define her existence based on these realities alone. For her, life is too diverse, too colorful, too mysterious. It would be a waste of experience (and time) to imprison herself to a few set of ideas. Google+ | Twitter

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5 Responses to 6 Grocery Store Tricks You Shouldn’t Fall For, But Probably Do

  1. Wow I never paid attention to the placement of milk in the stores near me but true to what you said the milk section is in the back of all the grocery stores over here in Virginia. Also you’re right about the volume sales. My favorite grocer has a list of items on this sale list and if you buy 10 you get even more discounts.

  2. Interesting article and no most of this stuff I never really gave a second thought to but will now :)

  3. Johnny says:

    The milk section is in the back of the supermarket here in my town too :)

  4. escargot says:

    Great tips most of these i was aware of but the coupon information is quite interesting.

  5. John Robert says:

    Milk is at back of store because it is a fast moving item with a sell by date that people watch. Milk is loaded in fridge from back inside storeroom so oldest date is always at front and they don’t block aisle. Many other items are handled same way.

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