8 reasons your grocery bill is sky-high right now - and what you can do about it
- Feel like your grocery bill is high? Inflation may not be the only reason. Part of the reason might be store design.
- Stores work to encourage customers to buy more than they intended.
Feel like your grocery bill is high? Inflation may not be the only reason. Part of the reason might be store design, which is aimed at encouraging you to buy more than intended. Here are the top techniques you should know that experts say get you to buy more.
Sale signs at the entrance
Flashy sale signs not only draw you in, but they also create what's called positive pricing, according to Edward Fox, professor of marketing at SMU Cox School of Business.
"When people walk in the store, they see key items at low prices, and that influences their perceptions
of the store's prices," he said. It sets the tone for the rest of your shopping trip.
Essentials at the back of the store
Looking for milk and eggs? You'll have to walk to the back of the store for them – passing lots of other items along the way. Walking through the whole store exposes you to more products, which can lead to buying more stuff, said Fox.
A big cart means lots of space for more items, and that's no accident. "Larger carts do, on average, increase the size of the total ticket by 20% or something like this," said Patrick Fisher, Interics VP of retail strategy and a retail industry analyst and consultant formerly of Nielsen and Lidl US.
Large, colorful sale signs
There's nothing like a large, colorful sale sign to draw your eye to a product. These catch customer attention, whether there's a deal or not. People who prefer to buy items on sale will buy more when a product is on sale, which works to the retailer's advantage, said Fox.
More expensive brands at eye level
"Because convenience is key with customers, 60 percent of items we choose to purchase are merchandised at eye level," said Dustin York, professor at Maryville University with extensive experience working for major corporations, including Nike, PepsiCo.
Stores will either place the pricier brands or the store-label brands (which make a higher margin) at eye
Deals, but only in multiples
You've seen them before: Buy five for the price of three, or get 10 for 10. It may seem like a good deal, but Fisher cautions "not all multi-values are made equal." He said if the fine print includes a "must buy," meaning you have to buy that amount to get the deal, it might not be worth it – especially if you don't need that many items.
Enticing endcap displays
Endcap displays with seasonal or sale items are meant to distract you. Those are the displays shoppers pass as they navigate the main aisles - and stores know this. These eye-catching displays often include complementary items next to each other that prompt you to buy more, said Angela Lee, professor of marketing at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Snacks at the checkout counter
Most of us have thrown a last-minute item in the cart at some point while waiting to check out. According to Fox, all those snacks and other random things by the checkout counter are specifically placed there to encourage unplanned purchases. Sure, they don't cost much, but it can add up over time.
How to outsmart them
Grocery stores may have some tricks, but they don't actually force you to buy extra things. Experts agree that the best way to avoid distraction and unplanned purchases is to have a list of exactly what you need and stick to it.
Don't need a lot? Opt for a basket instead of a big cart. And read the fine print on sale signs. If you have to buy five items to get a deal, and you don't need five, it's not a good deal.
Keep your receipt and return items you don't like or don't meet quality standards. Most stores won't advertise this, but if you ask a store manager, they will tell you the policy is to take items back if customers aren't satisfied. Just make sure you've only tried a small portion before returning it.
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