6 Tricks You Still Fall for at the Grocery Store

Ted Jenkin
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Today, grocery stores have become much more than your grandmother’s local market of days past.  Grocery stores don’t just sell groceries (meats, produce and dairy) any longer.  No, they have become a cornucopia of products and services beyond anything that Granny could have imagined.  You can pick up practically anything at the grocery these days, from gift cards, and beauty supplies to coffeemakers, lawn furniture and vacations, all in one stop.  At their core, however, grocery stores aren’t much different than the Wynn in Las Vegas.  They are a business and they are there to separate you from your money.  As a fellow consumer, I thought I would let you in on the six best tricks I see grocery stores employ today, so you can become a smarter, savvier shopper next time you’re at the store.

Wear Your Headphones

You may not have noticed at first, but now that you think of it, were they playing over the sound system some Michael McDonald hit from 30 years ago?  Most likely, they were.  Slow tunes relax the shopper and slow them down.  The strategy is to get you to take your time in the store, so you buy more items.  My advice is to bring your own music, so you can get in and get out!

Don’t Let Them Entice Your Senses

Did you ever wonder why the florist and bakery are the two things that hit you in the face when you enter the grocery store?  And, we all remember how Cinnabon was famous for pumping out that heavenly cinnamon-sugar smell at the mall.  The trick used here is to tempt you to pick up small treats for yourself, known as impulse buying, so that you continue your shopping spree in a feel-good mood.  You’re more likely to spend freely when feeling happy and satisfied.  However, you probably don’t need to munch on a doughnut while you’re grocery-shopping, so it’s best to walk on by the bakery.  My advice: Save the bakery and florist for last.  

Start at the Back

The dairy cases  are in the back.  The store’s layout is designed purposefully, so that consumers end their shopping with their most perishable items.  That may be part of it, however, grocers know that replenishing dairy staples is one of the main purposes for frequent trips to the grocery store.  They want you to walk through as many aisles as possible on your way to pick up that much-needed gallon of milk.  If you pass the cereal display, they can almost guarantee you’ll throw in your favorite brand of cereal on your way through.  So, take my advice, and try starting your next shopping trip in the dairy aisle. You probably won’t take too much extra time to browse through the aisles.

 Look Below the Belt

Haven’t had time to get those deep knee bends in this morning?  Then just head on out to the grocery store.  Shelving displays are designed intentionally with top brand-named products at the consumer’s eye level. If you look at the shelves below, you will find the store-brand or generic product for a much larger savings.  The same strategy is used for aisles with kid-friendly products.  Juice boxes and cookies are placed at a child’s eye level.  My advice: Be aware that the most expensive brands are in your direct line of vision (and your little one’s).  Lower your eyes to find the best savings.

Don’t Buy into a “Great Offer”

“Buy 2, Get 1 Free” is the oldest trick in the book. Usually, this type of discount is for a product that you don’t typically use much of at one time. Grocers know that consumers can’t resist a deal.  However, it’s not a good offer for you if it’s for an item that you don’t need to buy in bulk.  My advice: Make sure the item is on your list and the deal works to save you money on a staple you use frequently.

Stay Away from the Samples

All of the major grocery stores regularly hand out samples.  This isn’t just a ploy to try to get you to buy that specific item.  They want to introduce you to a new product on the market, and make you feel like you are one of the very first to try it.  It’s kind of like getting VIP treatment, grocery-store style.  How many times have you walked over to try a sample, and they’ve just run out?  Now, that product is even more desireable.  My advice: Skip the samples. If the product is any good, you’ll hear about it sooner or later.

Ted Jenkin is the CEO of oXYGen Financial, a financial advisory firm managing more than six hundred million dollars.  He is focused on being your financial advisor and your financial therapist. He is a frequent guest writer for the Wall Street Journal and personal finance expert for CNN’s “Headline News Weekend Express” and The Weather Channel.

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