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Don't Be Fooled by These Grocery Store Tricks

by Shelley Wake

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How many times have you stood at the checkout and wondered how so much stuff got into your cart? Or how it adds up to that much? Or got home, unpacked your groceries and thought 'why on earth did I buy that?'

There is a very good reason why these things happen. Grocery stores are carefully designed to tempt you into buying more and spending more. The grocery store is a battle zone. You want to buy the groceries you need, the grocery store wants you to buy more than you want to. The way to win the battle and save money in the grocery store is to know the tricks your enemy uses.

Be an informed shopper and you can walk out of that grocery store with just the groceries you need and with some money still in your wallet.

Trick One: Putting the Items You Need Right at the Back

How many times have you been to the grocery store just to buy bread and came home with bags and bags of food? This is not accidental. Retailers know the items that most people buy, items like bread, butter and eggs. So they place these items far apart and at the back of the store. That way you have to walk past all the other products just to get that bread you came in for. And on the way to these items they place special items to tempt you.

Trick Two: Easy Reach Shopping

Retailers know that people buy most often the products sitting around eye level. Retailers actually pay grocery stores to have their products placed on that center shelf. This extra payment also tends to end up on the price. Next time you reach for a product, take a second and check the shelves above and below. More often than not there will be another version of the same product sitting just a little higher or lower.

Trick Three: Specials

There are always specials on products, but not all of them are really worth buying. Some specials are cheaper than usual, but still not cheap enough that you would actually buy them. Don't be fooled by the tag saying "save $2.50." You aren't really saving if another brand is cheaper than this special price. Compare the special price with other brands and see if the price is really cheap. If it is, stock up, assuming the product keeps.

Trick Four: Special Products

Grocery stores love to have special products in the aisle for special prices, usually items you don't expect to find in a grocery store. Things like appliances or saucepan sets. You see that saucepan set sitting there with a big "special" sign over it and you think that you have been lucky to find a bargain. But if you seen that same saucepan set in a home ware store, you would not even notice it. Always remind yourself that you have not really been lucky enough to find something that special. And ask yourself whether you really need it and whether it really is it a good price, or whether you may be able to get it cheaper somewhere else.

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Trick Five: Price Check

Grocery stores make mistakes. Especially for products that are advertised on sale, check what price they actually scan at. Many times a product will actually scan for the higher original price. Instead of standing there bored as the items are scanned, check the prices, just in case.

Trick Six: Buying Non-Grocery Items

Grocery stores also stock those items that aren't really groceries, things like plants, batteries, and toasters. When you see just one of these items sitting on the shelf, it can seem like a good buy. There are no similar products to compare it with. Often this means people spend more on these items then they would be willing to if they saw the product in a specialty store. You are walking along with a cart full of goods so you just throw it in. But most often, you could go to a specialty store and buy that same product for a much cheaper price. The grocery store is the best place to get groceries, but not always the best place to get other items.

And Finally - A Few Tips to Save Money in the Grocery Store

  • Don't shop while hungry. Hunger makes you want to buy everything.
  • If the grocery store has a bakery, go to the bakery section last. That smell of bread will only make you feel hungry. And then you will buy more of everything.
  • If you go just to pick up a few things, take a basket, not a cart. That way you will fight the urge to throw in lots of other things.
  • Write down the prices of special items and check what they scan at.

Reviewed March 2017

Take the Next Step:

  • Discover savvy ways to trim the fat from your food budget by visiting the Dollar Stretcher Library.
  • Once you trim the grocery budget, don't waste that extra money! Consider opening a savings account to start an emergency fund or save for some other financial goal.
  • Continue to trim food costs by visiting our food & groceries section to get tips and tools for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.
  • Stop struggling to get ahead financially. Subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist And What You Can Do About It for FREE!

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