9 sneaky supermarket tricks
Grocery stores have all kinds of ways to get you to spend more than you'd planned when you walked in the store.
This post comes from Amanda Geronikos at partner site Money Talks News.
Now you're properly prepared for your weekly trip to the supermarket. Or are you?
No matter how hard you try, supermarkets often find a way to eat up more of your budget than you bargained for. Don't feel bad. Today’s modern supermarket is less a store than a micro-managed, computerized retail laboratory whose sole purpose is getting you to part with as much cash as possible.
Here are some tricks of the supermarket trade. Knowing what they are can help you shop smarter and save money:
1. Store layout
It's no coincidence that staples like milk, bread and eggs are often placed in vastly different locations within the store, and nowhere near the entrance. Is it possible you can run a gantlet of 10,000 impulse buys on your way to the milk without succumbing? Sure. Is it likely? No.
2. Grouping foods that go together
You spot a bag of some heavily advertised tortilla chips. That's OK; you have a coupon. Too bad you don't have one for those jars of salsa sitting next to them. In the blink of an eye, they're both in your cart. So much for that carefully planned list.
3. Mouth-watering smells
It's a secret real-estate agents have known for years: The smell of freshly baked cookies can help turn an open house into your next home. If the smell of fresh-baked cookies will persuade you to drop $200,000 on a house, how are you supposed to resist dropping $4.95 on fresh-baked cookies?
4. Biggie-sized carts
Grocery store carts are growing. In fact, carts at Whole Foods have almost doubled in size in recent years, marketing consultant Martin Lindstrom told "Today" in a 2011 interview. Not only does a giant cart allow you to buy more, a half-empty cart makes it appear you're missing something.
5. Shelf placement
The most profitable items are often placed at eye level. If you're looking for mustard, for example, you'll immediately spot the gourmet and spiced mustards, but you may have to look down to find the more budget-friendly house brands.
6. Checkout line items
According to Business Insider, another home for profitable items is the checkout line. While you're waiting for the cashier to ring you up, you might pick up a magazine or a pack of chewing gum, the store hopes.
Punk would probably make you want to get through the store as quickly as possible, which is why grocery stores play easy-listening tunes. The more relaxing the experience, the longer you stay. The longer you stay, the more you spend.
8. Mislabeled meats
While we hope stores wouldn't deliberately include the packaging in the weight or add ice to increase it, according to this TLC article, some stores use tricks like that to overstate the weight of packaged meats.
9. Store "deals"
Sometimes promotions help you save a few bucks. Other times, they don't. Ten Greek yogurt cups for $10 may seem like a deal, but will you be able to eat your money's worth before they expire? Also, you may not need to buy 10 to get the $1-a-cup price.
The bottom line
The solution is to be aware you're being played and respond accordingly. Your first line of defense is understanding the rules of engagement. Every business uses tricks of the trade; there's nothing sinister about that. But just as retailers are free to use them, you're free to understand and resist them.
More on Money Talks News and MSN Money:
- 30 tips to save on food
- 10 foods you shouldn't buy organic -- and 12 you should
- 10 pantry staples to start any meal
- Grocery store savings secrets
- 7 savvy supermarket saving tips
- Family fed on $100 a month
Cheaper store brands aren't always the same quality as name brands and often do not taste as good. For instance, Stop and Shop butter can, in no way, compare to Land 'o Lakes. It is more watery and doesn't have the rich taste that LOL has. Although S&S butter is cheaper, in my opinion, it is not a good value. The same goes for a lot of other items.
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