We’ve all gone into the grocery store for just one or two things and come out with a full cart and a much bigger bill than intended. But why is it so hard to stick to our shopping list once we get inside the store?
Supermarkets are set up to part you with your hard-earned cash, from the layout to the size of the shopping carts. Grocery stores are designed to get you to buy more than you really need, which is why it’s so easy to end up over budget.
If you want to lower your food costs, you’ll need to be aware of the supermarket psychological tricks that are driving you to spend too much. Here are five of the most common tricks and some tips on how to resist them.
5 Supermarket Psychological Tricks to Watch Out For
Have you ever walked by the bakery at a grocery store and gotten hit with the smell of warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies? Some grocery chains actually pump scents into their stores to make you hungry and get you to buy more.
And studies have shown that it works. When a Brooklyn grocery store called Net Cost started using a grapefruit scent machine in their produce department, sales jumped by 7%. Indulgent aromas like the smell of fresh baked goods are even more effective and can triple sales.
So the next time you walk by the grocery store bakery, try to hold your nose and resist the temptation to stray from your shopping list.
Ten for $10 Deals
One of the pricing strategies grocery stores use to get you to spend more is ten for $10 deals. Although it would be simpler to say each item costs $1, supermarkets display the discount as ten for $10 to get you to put extra items in your cart.
Believe it or not, this is one of the supermarket psychological tricks that actually works. Studies have shown that people buy more items when the price is displayed as ten for $10 rather than one for a dollar.
To resist this trick, make a grocery list at home and write down how many of each item you need. Then it will be easier to resist the temptation to buy higher quantities just because things are on sale.
Snacks in the Checkout Lane
One of the most common supermarket psychological tricks is putting candy and other snacks in the checkout lane. We’re all a little hungry by the time we get done shopping, especially since we’ve been around tons of delicious food. So grocery store owners hope that we buy a couple extra Snickers bars on our way out.
To prevent yourself from falling for this one, keep a high protein snack like trail mix in your glove compartment. If a bag of chips starts calling your name, remind yourself that you have a healthier option waiting for you in the car.
Research has shown that the size of our shopping cart has a huge effect on our food purchasing habits. In a recent study, simply doubling the size of the cart made consumers buy 40% more.
Grocery stores have taken notice of this and have steadily increased the size of their carts over the years. Between 2009 and 2011, Whole Foods nearly doubled the capacity of their trolleys to try to boost sales.
So if you’re having trouble sticking to your grocery budget, shop with a small basket instead of an oversized cart.
Last but not least, the store layout can trip you up and cause you to impulse buy. Dairy products are all the way in the back, which forces you to walk through the whole store even if you just need a carton of milk.
Supermarkets usually advertise sales on the endcap of each aisle so you see them as you walk past. These deals may cause you to put extra items in your cart and draw you into the main aisles of the store where all the processed foods are.
It’s hard to impulse buy milk, but easy to pick up a bag of chips you weren’t planning on getting. That’s how supermarkets get you to fill your entire cart even if you just planned on running in for one or two essentials.
I recommend always shopping with a list and trying your best to get in and out of the store quickly. The more time you spend inside, the more temptations you’ll be exposed to. You may even want to bring along a friend who can hold you accountable and tell you to put back that container of Oreos you don’t really need.
Resisting these supermarket psychological tricks is hard. But if you stick to your grocery list, both your wallet and waistline will be better off.
If you enjoy reading our blog posts and would like to try your hand at blogging, we have good news for you; you can do exactly that on Saving Advice. Just click here to get started.
Check out these helpful tools to help you save more. For investing advice, visit The Motley Fool.