Grocery stores know exactly how you shop. And no trick is too small if it means getting you to pick up just one more item. The following are five tricks grocery stores use to increase their profits and solutions to keep your spending to a minimum.
Sales or Bargains?
Many advertised sales are anything but. Often times the list price shown in comparison to the “sale” price is not the original list price but a much inflated one.
Compare the unit prices to similar items to see if the sale is really a bargain. Having a base knowledge of regular items will help you determine if an item is truly on sale.
Ten for $10! Buy Two get Two Free! Four for $3! Every sale sticker you read has been carefully worded to get the maximum sale. Ten for ten dollars is the same as one for one dollar, but one for $1 is rarely seen. Grocers know that the amount of items they advertise is the amount most people purchase. But unless the sale specifically says you must buy the advertised amount, you can purchase lesser amounts for the same sales price.
Only buy as much as you need, and be sure that the unit price is a true bargain. Four for three dollars may sound good, but if the regular unit price is .75cents, there is no actual savings.
Free samples are anything but good will. They are a plain and simple marketing tool. Research shows that the majority of people feel a sense of indebtedness to buy after trying a free sample. And often times, the price of the sampled item is nowhere to be seen, resulting in major profits on these items.
Enjoy the samples, guilt-free! Or, if you know you will have difficulty not buying from the sweet grandma handing them out, learn to say, “No thank you.” and move on.
Sales stickers get taken down late or put up early. Advertised sales are put under the wrong item on the shelf. Sale items are never updated in the computer. Whatever the cause, scanning errors can cause major differences in your expected price and your actual receipt.
Pay close attention to each item as it is being scanned and point out inconsistencies immediately. Do not feel guilted by the three people behind you rolling their eyes. If you catch an error after the fact, you are much less likely to return to the store for your refund. Also, ask the cashier if the store has a free-if-it-scans-wrong policy. Many cashiers will not offer this info on their own.
Grocery stores are the best place to buy groceries and household items. But for all those other non-food items, they are usually ridiculously overpriced. Cookware, fans, beach towels, books, dishes, and other similar items will cost you far more in a grocery store than a large retailer like Walmart or Target. Stores know that these types of purchases are usually emergency or need-it-now purchases, and they can charge as much as they like for these items.
Plan ahead so that you are never forced to buy non-food or household items at the grocers.
As you can see, grocers put a lot of time and money into researching exactly how you buy. But with a little preparation and a lot of knowledge, it is possible to get the sales, avoid the traps and stick to the budget.
Rules to remember when shopping:
- Go to the store as little as possible. Plan your trips well so there are fewer in-between stops.
- Make a list and stick to it!
- Menu plan every meal and snack.
- Keep track of what you are spending with a calculator (and don’t forget sales tax).
- Shop alone when possible.
- Always check unit prices.
- If possible, bring cash for your budgeted amount and leave the cards at home.
- Avoid aisles you don’t need.
- Have a base knowledge of regular prices.