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7 Sneaky Ways Your Supermarket Is Robbing You

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Linsay ThomasGuest Blogger
July 31, 2016 · 7.5k Views

Marketing and advertising is everywhere. You can’t even walk into a supermarket without being bombarded with ads and hidden tactics to get you to spend more. From music to product placement to special buys, your local store is pulling out all the stops to get you to fill that shopping cart. If you don’t come with a plan, you’ll end up derailing your budget. Here are seven ways that your supermarket is robbing you, and how you can protect your hard-earned money.

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1. Larger carts

Source: Flickr

Came for just a few items? Your store will make sure you fill your shopping cart. Notice that shopping carts seem to be getting bigger and bigger? Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. Carts have doubled in size over the years, causing you to purchase up to 40% more. You fall for this tactic because if you leave the store with your cart only half full, it doesn’t feel like you bought enough food to last you and your family for the week. So keep this in mind the next time you shop. Don’t be tempted to fill that cart. Come prepared with a list and buy only what you need.

2. Product placement

Source: Chelsea Reynolds on Flickr

Enter any store you’ll likely be greeted with colorful flowers, sweets and aromatic baked goods just out of the oven. Stores place the most tempting products in the front, so you have to get through them in order to get the stuff you really need, which is usually in the back. Also, when searching for your favorite items, you may have to bend and stoop or reach up a little to get them. That’s because the most profitable items are at eye level, and those are the items your store wants you to buy. Be strong. Resist temptation by quickly bypassing the front of the store and following a set route that will get you to the back of store and away from these impulse buys.

3. Supermarket traps

Source: Net Cost Philly

Nowadays, your local grocery store has just about everything you need. You can have your morning coffee at a Starbucks kiosk, then grab lunch at the deli counter, which may offer sandwiches and Chinese food. Then you can grab some soup, salad, and roasted chicken for dinner. But not before you buy some stamps and lottery tickets, cash in your loose change and browse the selection of cell phones. By adding more and more amenities, stores can keep you there longer, and that means you’ll spend more. In fact, if you wanted to, you could turn a quick supermarket run into an all-day event. But you have better things to do, right?

4. Multi-buy deals

Source: New York Times

Buy one, get one free and 10 for $10 special buys may seem like good deals, but in reality, all they do is make you spend more. If you buy two of something, and you only need one, all you’re doing is spending more money and wasting product. And who needs 10 of one item? This can be a great deal if you’re stocking up on a non-perishable item that you’ll use eventually. Here’s a tip: Don’t buy the quantity listed in the ad. In most stores, you can still take advantage of a 10 for $10 deal by buying two or three of a product. You’ll get charged $1 each and you’ll get exactly what you need without spending more.

5. Impulse buys

Source: Time

Your supermarket trip was going great until you go to the checkout and saw the deal on candy bars, or the magazine that has a story about your favorite celebrity. And you’ll likely be stuck in line for the next 10 minutes as the person in front of you unloads her cart and argues with the cashier about the price for each product that is scanned. Sound familiar? Resist the urge to overspend by bringing cash only to the store. That way, you’ll be forced to stay within budget and won’t have credit cards as a backup.

6. Coupons

Source: Mr. Bargainer

Be mindful when using coupons because they don’t always save you money. Coupons can help you or hurt you, depending on the product. Manufacturer coupons are available only for brand name products, which you should avoid anyway. Store brands are almost always cheaper and taste pretty much the same, so you should be sticking to those. Coupons can be good when the store is having a sale on a brand name item. If it’s not, however, you may end up spending more money choosing the brand name item and then using a coupon to save 50 cents when the store brand is already $2 cheaper.

7. Slow jams

Source: Allstate Blog

Don’t go to the store if you’re looking to hear the new R&B or dance track. Stores tend to have easy listening and soft rock favorites blasting through the speakers to slow you down. If the tempo is too fast, you’ll move faster and that means you’ll get out quicker – not what the stores want you to do. Don’t focus on the music; move at your own pace and get through the checkout as quickly as you can.

Avoiding the Grocery Store

Many shoppers choose to avoid the store altogether by shopping online. While this will help you avoid the crowds and impulse purchases, you will likely have to pay a fee for delivery. It’s possible to find coupons to help slash costs, but if you don’t, you’ll have to ascertain whether or not the extra fees are worth it to keep you on budget.

Even though your intent inside a grocery store is to get in and out as quickly as possible, your supermarket has other plans. They’ll do just about anything to keep you in the store for hours in order for you to spend more.

Don’t fall for the tactics listed above. Eat before you go to avoid buying sweets and other unnecessary food. Come prepared with a shopping list and cash and set a time limit. You’ll be back home in no time having spent less money and feeling better about yourself and your budget.


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Linsay Thomas is a seasoned writer and editor who has written thousands of articles about topics such as saving money, healthcare, law, pets and education. She hails from California, where she lives with her husband, two children and a menagerie of pets. When she's not writing, she enjoys sports, breeding chocolate Labs and visiting the beach.

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