10 Sneaky Supermarket Tricks That Make You Spend More

Don’t be fooled! Save loads of cash and keep your budget in check.

 1. Layout tricks to catch lazy shoppers

Ever noticed that you have to go all the way to the back corner of the supermarket to find the milk? This is no accident – it means you have to walk through the aisles and past loads of temptations when all you needed was a litre of milk.

Other sneaky layout trick supermarkets use to get you to buy more are:

  • tempting your senses with pretty and fragrant items like fresh flowers and bakery items at the entrance
  • placing all those tempting treats around the check outs
  • big ‘special’ displays on the end of the aisles
  • putting the most expensive brands and products at eye level. Always check the top and bottom shelves for good value!
  • placing items next to each other to tempt you to buy both – such as corn chips next to tomato salsa or garlic bread next to the fresh pasta

Stay savvy, and don’t be fooled. Bring a list, and stick to it, buying only what you need.

2. Fun music to give a feel-good vibe

Music makes us happy! Happy shoppers linger longer and spend more cash. The supermarkets know this, and hope that by playing music they’ll lift our mood and encourage us to spend more. Sometimes we’re not even aware of these tunes, but chances are they’re having an effect.

3. Pre-cut and packaged fresh food

Yes, it’s really handy that you can buy pumpkin or celery already cut up into handy little pieces. But do you really need to pay almost twice the price per kilo for the privilege?

  • Likewise, while it might be quicker to grab a wrapped tray of chicken breasts from the meat fridge, they’re likely to be several dollars cheaper a kilo if you buy them over the deli counter instead.
  • Compare prices on pre-packaged versus loose pricing to make sure you’re getting the best value.
  • You’ll not only save yourself money, you’ll be helping the environment by using less packaging.

4. Saying ‘up to 50% off’

Sure, perhaps some items might be reduced by 50%, but chances are they’re not the products you’re planning to buy.

  • The super cheap items are usually the random products that no-one’s buying and that the supermarket needs to get rid of.
  • Don’t be swayed into buying things just because they’re super cheap. There’s probably a good reason why no-one’s been buying them, and you can bet you don’t need them either.

5. Buy one, get one free – or the two for one

It’s pretty hard to resist a so-called freebie! But unless you had already planned to buy the item, this isn’t really a perk. Yes it may feel like value, but if it isn’t something you normally use, what are you now going to do with the second one? So if you honestly don’t need the item, buying it just because of a two-for-one special isn’t really saving you anything.

6. Multi-buy discounts

Supermarkets also often advertise multi-buy discounts like ‘3 for $3’ that don’t actually save you any money.

  • Take a good look at the price ticket and you’ll often see that the item is $1 each anyway. It’ just a ploy to get you to spend more and buy more of a certain item.
  • As with the two-for-one trick, only take advantage of these offers if they’re actually saving you money on something you planned to buy anyhow.

7. The word special just isn’t special anymore

Just because something is listed as a special, does it really make it one?

  • Take a good look at the price ticket for the original price and the so called ‘special’ price. Sometimes it’s funny to see that the saving is as small as just one cent! But by putting a big, brightly coloured ‘special’ ticket on a product, it’s amazing how many customers grab one or two, thinking they’re nabbing themselves a bargain.
  • So take a good look at that special ticket next time, to determine how ‘special’ that special really is!

8. Grocery unit pricing – bigger doesn’t always mean better

The introduction of standard unit pricing on supermarket price tickets is really handy for letting you see how much say 100g or 100mL of a product is costing you in various package size options. But don’t always assume that the biggest packet is going to represent the best value for money.

  • Sometimes supermarkets switch things around to catch us out and move stock – making it cheaper to buy smaller packages of an item rather than the big ones.
  • This goes against what we’ve been led to believe – that biggest is always best value for money – and so we often get caught out.
  • So take a good look at the unit pricing on each ticket, make sure that each is comparing the same unit, so you can see what you’re really paying and where the best value lies.

9. Cheap introductory prices that get raised once you’re hooked

When a product is new to the market it’s usually offered at a special introductory price that makes it affordable and grabs your attention – so you buy it, and often you like it!

  • Once you’re hooked and in the habit of buying the product, this ‘special introductory price’ is replaced by a higher regular price.
  • Don’t be tricked into buying things. Consider whether you really need the item and don’t be fooled into including a product in your buying routine just because it was once on a super low special price.

10. Shrinking sizes

Grocery producers are really sneaky. Sure, they mightn’t have put the price up for ages on that chocolate bar or packet of chips….but is the packet as big as it used to be? Many are slowly shrinking to maintain the producer’s profit margins, and you’re not getting as much for your money.

  • Take family size blocks of chocolate as an example. These were once 250 grams, before being reduced to 220 grams, and facing a further cut earlier this year to 200 grams. All for the same price!
  • So keep an eye on packaging sizes and use those handy unit pricing tickets to determine which brand and size is really giving you the best value for money.