Budget Living

Supermarket Tricks And How To Avoid Them

Grocery prices are at record highs, with the Office of National Statistics stating that grocery prices rose 18.4% in May 2023 compared to the same products in 2021. But this hasn’t meant less profits for supermarkets. Four of the UK’s biggest supermarkets are still making profits in the hundreds of millions. Supermarkets use clever tactics to encourage you to spend more money every time you enter. So what are these supermarket tricks? Well, below, we’ve collected eight supermarket tricks to watch out for to help you save money on groceries in your weekly shop.

1. Do you need that large trolley?

So it’s time to head to your local supermarket for that weekly tour down the aisles. You grab a trolley and are ready to go, but do you really need the largest trolley? Using a bigger trolley makes you focus on the volume; therefore, you may add items into your trolley that you don’t need, but you have the space in the trolley.

How to avoid this? Consider what you need and whether the largest trolley is the right choice for the items you need. A smaller trolley will make you more considerate of what you can fit in it. Additionally, bringing trolley bags will help conserve the space in a larger trolley.

2. Tempting those taste buds

The smell of freshly made bread at a bakery or the sight of sweet treats are all temptations hard to resist. These delicious delicacies are on show just for you to give in and pop them in your shopping basket. But do you need any of this fresh food?

How to avoid this? To save money on groceries, don’t shop on an empty stomach. You’re more likely to buy treats or tempting food items because you are hungry. Alternatively, chewing gum or sucking on a hard-boiled sweet will help to prevent you from imagining eating those fresh bakery goods.

3. The sound of supermarket aisles

Have you ever noticed the music played in supermarkets? Stores play slow music to encourage a leisurely stroll through the aisles. They do this so that you take your time and look at more items giving you more time to contemplate if you need to buy.

How to avoid this? Wear headphones whilst shopping. If you can’t hear the slow music playing, you’re more likely to glide through the aisles, focusing on ticking off those items on your shopping list.

4. The colours of the Supermarket

The colours you see in a supermarket have more effect than you may realise. As you enter the supermarket, you are greeted with a spectrum of colours, from the variety of fruit and vegetables and flower bouquets. Seeing these items may put you in a jolly mood, which may also trick you into spending more money. Supermarkets are also very much aware of the associations we match with specific colours and have adapted packaging and labels to correspond to these associations. For example, we associate green with being healthy, black with being luxurious, red with discount items, and orange with cheaper items. However, just because an item is packaged in this colour or has a big red label doesn’t mean that they align with our associations.

How to avoid this? For a great supermarket savings tip, double check the prices when looking out for those discount labels or packaging we associate with cheaper items and determine whether they are more affordable and if you need them.

5. I only came for a pint of milk

Have you ever wondered why those essential items, such as milk, bread and eggs, are not all located in the same place. Well, supermarkets know that most shoppers will be looking for these items and purposely space them out. Doing so makes you spend more time walking up and down the aisles, seeing all the other items you think you may need, and inevitably spending more money. Supermarkets also trick you into searching for items by changing displays and making it harder to find what you are looking for. The extra focus you put in for hunting for the items you may need increases the chances that you find more items to add to your basket.

How to avoid this? Don’t pick up the basket. If you only need a few items, you can carry those straight to the till.

6. Eyes on the prize

Supermarket stack shelves in a way that makes searching for the more expensive name branded items much easier. Having items which give supermarkets better margins at eye level to shoppers increases the chances of you picking them out from the shelves. The same tactic is used for children. Placing colourful branded items aimed at children at their eye level increases the chance that they catch their attention.

How to avoid this? Look closer to the floor. Items on the bottom of the shelves are usually cheaper and unbranded or the supermarkets own brand, making it easier to save money on groceries. And if you have little ones with you, try to keep them occupied with the shopping list or ask them to fetch items on your list.

7. Bargain hunting

Discounts or special offers aren’t always there to save you money. Supermarkets tend to make more profits on what you think is a bargain. Buy one, get one free. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. Special offers. These classic discount terms are pricing strategies that make you spend more on items you may not need. The most effective of them all is product limits, where you are only allowed to buy a certain amount of items, making more shoppers buy the maximum limit. All of these strategies work on the scarcity principle, which makes you believe that the supermarket’s stock is running low or near running out. When in fact, it is just a tactic to make you buy more.

How to avoid this? Sticking to the shopping list and buying only what you need is a great supermarket saving tip.  If it is not on the list, you don’t need it. No matter how good of a deal it may seem. And if items are in a deal, ensure they will last or won’t go off.

8. Tricks at the tills

You’ve got everything you need on your shopping list and are waiting in line at the till, but the glistening packet of your favourite sweet treat is staring right back at you. The time you spend at the till gives you just enough time to contemplate slipping a treat in the conveyor belt.

How to avoid this? Fight the temptation. Being resilient is the only way to avoid spending money on items you don’t need.  

Saving money on groceries

Watch out for all those sneaky tricks supermarkets have under their sleeves the next time you go shopping. They are just there to make you spend more money. To help you save on groceries, plan out the meals you cook during the week and set a shopping budget. That way, you will go to the supermarket with a plan and won’t be fooled by any tricks supermarkets have up their sleeves. 

We hope that all these tips will help you save money at the supermarket. For more money-saving tips, we have a range of helpful articles on our Sunny Good Vibes blog.