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If you’ve noticed that your recent trips to the supermarket are costing you more, you’re not alone. Supermarkets employ a range of tactics to encourage shoppers to spend more money. They use these subtle tricks to get you to increase your spending. Here are the 19 sneaky ways grocery stores trick you into spending more money.

Giving Out Samples

Close-up image of a female worker offering cheese cubes for tasting.
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Retailers understand that they can boost sales of particular food items by preparing a batch and offering samples to shoppers as they browse. When you have the chance to taste something, even if it’s just a few spoonfuls, you’re more likely to add it to your cart. These bite-sized samples provide a taste that often sways you to purchase the full-sized product, sometimes leading you to deviate from your original shopping list.

Prices Ending in .99

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What’s the difference between a price of $.99 and $1? Not much, but it creates a psychological effect that makes it appear like a better deal. While it may seem like an unusual tactic, it’s a clever way to encourage you to spend more money. Pricing items with 99 cents tricks you into thinking you’re getting a product for much less, even though the savings may only be a penny. Supermarkets understand this and use this tactic.

Essential Items in the Back of the Store

back of supermarket
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Grocery stores often place essential items at the back of the store, prompting shoppers to walk through the entire store, going up and down multiple aisles. This layout makes it quite easy to get distracted by other unplanned purchases that capture your attention along the way.

Refrigerated Drinks at the Front 

Various of soft drinks in market
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Single cold beverages are typically positioned conveniently near the cash register, making them hard to ignore. However, it’s essential to pause and consider before purchasing that cold drink. The issue lies in the fact that these single-serve cold soft drinks often cost the same as a six-pack of soft drinks available in the beverage aisle.

Large Shopping Carts

shopping cart in supermarket grocery aisle
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Larger shopping carts often tempt customers to fill them. The size of the cart directly influences how much you put into it. You’ll likely end up with more items in your cart without even realizing it. To prevent overindulgence during your next grocery trip, consider using a shopping basket to restrict the number of items you can pick up.

More Expensive Items at Eye Level

a woman is overwhelmed with the wide range in the supermarket when shopping.
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The pricier products in the supermarket are conveniently positioned at eye level. This is because the first place people tend to look when searching for a product is at eye level. Supermarket owners are well aware of this, so they tend to place the costlier items on the middle shelves. To find more budget-friendly options and save some money, it’s always a good idea to check both the bottom and top shelves for cheaper deals on products.

Layout Changes

African-American guy with green plastic basket walks looking at shelves with different goods in modern supermarket department
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You might have noticed that your supermarket occasionally rearranges its layout. This makes it harder to quickly run in and out of the supermarket if you don’t know where something is. The store wants you to take your time and add other items to your cart while you search. These layout changes can be both perplexing and serve as a tactic for supermarkets to boost their sales. 

Offer Reward Programs

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While rewards cards do offer some exclusive deals, they are often primarily a marketing tactic used by grocery stores to encourage you to shop with them and spend more. 

Get Your Data

girl in the supermarket buys sushi and makes a purchase at the checkout self-service
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When you enroll in a rewards program, the supermarket collects your information, aiming to understand your shopping preferences and the reasons behind your purchases. In return, they offer special discounts, cheaper gas, and exclusive coupons as a way of mining your purchases and gaining insights into your shopping habits. This information helps them tailor their offers and upsell products to you.

The Smell

baked goods in bakery at supermarket, bread
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The supermarket strategically positions its bakery and flower shops at the front, not just for your convenience but because of the enticing aromas. These scents can trigger your hunger and work to the store’s advantage by encouraging you to shop with a heartier appetite, leading you to fill your cart with more items and ultimately spend more money.

Choice of Music

African American couple with trolley purchasing groceries at mall
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Music can evoke happiness and influence your mood. Supermarkets are well aware of this and often play lively music to encourage you to continue shopping. Additionally, they may occasionally interrupt the music to broadcast a commercial, informing you about items currently on sale.

Encouraging Bulk Buying

Walmart grocery store Royal rice display large 20 pounds
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Many of us have been conditioned to believe that purchasing larger, bulk-sized products will lead to savings. However, this isn’t always the case. Some supermarkets may capitalize on this assumption and price bulk items higher than similar smaller portions. It’s important to take a moment to double-check such details before placing these products in your shopping basket.

Small Items at Checkout

checkout register
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Cash registers often have candy, soda, magazines, and other small items nearby that you might not have initially planned to buy. Grocery stores position these easy-to-grab items near the register, capitalizing on their impulse purchase appeal, making it convenient for you to add them to your cart at the last minute.

Price Cuts

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Supermarkets can attract you into the store by offering discounts on certain items, knowing that you’ll likely pick up other things while shopping.

Convenience Foods

Fresh chopped vegetables on a cutting board
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Convenience foods like bagged salad mixes and pre-chopped vegetables are a time-saver, but they come at a higher cost. While they can save you time, it’s best to skip the pre-prepped produce and go for whole fruits and vegetables. Then, take the extra time at home to wash and chop them yourself.

One Stop Shop

Costco retail superstore building and sign with people and cars
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Whether it’s Costco or Sam’s Club, larger stores tend to consume more of your time and money during each visit. Some stores provide additional services like gas refills, tire repairs, mattress replacements, and everything you need to eat, all in an effort to keep you in their store and stop you from having to make additional trips elsewhere.

Coupons 

Coupon savings
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Coupons are a practical way to save on your grocery bill, offering a sense of cost-effectiveness. When using coupons, it’s worth considering if another brand might offer a better deal, and also keeping an eye on the expiration date, which often adds a sense of urgency to your purchase. Supermarkets are well aware of this tactic when offering coupons.

Offers with Limited Time

Grocery store checkout
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Limited-time offers create a sense of urgency, prompting your brain to think you should grab it before it’s no longer available.

Grouped Items

Grocery store supermarket
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Stores often use a merchandising technique called grouping. They place three or more related items together to encourage you to buy all of them. For example, A bag of chips may be grouped with salsa and dip. It’s a common sales strategy to boost your purchases.

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Young girl holding fruits and vegetables in an eco bag on the background of the store
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Let’s face it – the rising cost of food is putting a strain on our budgets. As inflation continues to drive up the prices of groceries and everyday goods, many of us are feeling the financial squeeze, especially when we hit the supermarket. Here are 21 effective ways to cut down on your grocery expenses.

Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half With These 21 Genius Shopping Hacks

12 Surprising Items in Your Kitchen that Need to Hit the Trash Immediately

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14 Incredible Ways to Repurpose Used Coffee Grounds

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Image Credit: The Thrifty Apartment

Most people toss out used coffee grounds after making their morning cup of coffee, but what you might not know is that these grounds can actually be useful in many ways. You can repurpose them to do things like composting or cleaning, which can help reduce waste in your home. Here’s how.

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14 Clever Uses for Baking Soda Around the House (And It’s Not Baking)

baking soda
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A box of baking soda is a versatile household tool. It offers practical solutions for your entire home as a gentle abrasive scrub and a deodorizer. With its multi-purpose abilities, you might rethink the need for other expensive cleaning supplies. Here are 14 clever ways to put baking soda to work around the house.

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10 Aluminum Foil Hacks Your Mom Might Not Have Taught You

aluminum foil
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Aluminum foil is a useful kitchen staple known for its versatility and reliability. Surprisingly, this household staple goes beyond covering your favorite dishes in the oven. There’s so much more that you can do with aluminum foil, as it has so many practical uses. So, if you’ve only used aluminum foil to line your baked dishes, you are in for a treat. Here are ten ways to simplify life and household tasks using aluminum foil.

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Tamara White is the creator and founder of The Thrifty Apartment, a home decor and DIY blog that focuses on affordable and budget-friendly home decorating ideas and projects. Tamara documents her home improvement journey, love of thrifting, tips for space optimization, and creating beautiful spaces.

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