Tricks Supermarkets Use To Get You To Spend More Money

by Laura Foor

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Want to stop overspending at the grocery store? Then you need to know these tricks supermarkets use to get you to spend more money.

What is it that makes it so hard for us to stick to buying only what’s on our preplanned shopping list? Would you feel better if you knew it wasn’t all your fault? It’s not.

If you’re someone who constantly wonders how you almost always end up spending more on groceries than your current food budget allows, understanding the tricks supermarkets use to get you to spend more will help you stay within your shopping budget.

A Tricky Grocery Store Atmosphere

Yes, your local supermarket has an atmosphere. It’s not just a place where people go to buy their food. It’s an experience. The big chains do their research, and that’s how they know the best way to get you to spend more is to capitalize on your senses. Thus, one of the most used tricks supermarkets use to get you to spend more money is to create and release pleasant smells, which are known to put you in a better mood. This is done because studies show people tend to spend more money when they’re in a good mood.

And why are everyday essentials located in the back of the store? Unfortunately, it’s not so you can get your 10,000 steps in for the day. They do it so you must walk through the store, hoping you’ll see something else to buy.

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Tricking Your Senses

So now we know supermarkets use smells to get you to hand over more cash. Flowers and baked goodies are the two more common smells released. These well-placed, happy smells activate your salivary glands.

Listening to the slower-paced music they play keeps you walking at a pace just right for seeing everything in the aisles. Of course, the music chosen is easy to sing along with to help put you in a good mood.

Visually, they use bright colors to catch your eye and promote a positive atmosphere. And positivity promotes good feelings, which puts you in a better mood. You get the picture. Did you know that we’re naturally drawn to the color red, which also is an appetite stimulator? Two birds, one stone!

New rubber-based floors are now being used that vibrate the shopping cart handle just enough to keep your mind from drifting away. And lastly, free food samples tempt your taste buds into buying whatever is being promoted on any particular day.

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Promo Tricks

Everyone loves getting a good deal, but how good are they really? Just because the sign says “Buy 5, Get 5,” it doesn’t always mean you’re getting the best deal. Be sure to check the expiration dates, as this may be the reason why they’re offering these seemingly great deals. And please don’t trust those handwritten chalkboard signs, even though they convey an innocent country charm. Remember that profit-seeking stores dictate what’s written on them.

Be aware that foods that go together are often put on display side by side. For example, need to buy chips? You’re most likely going to see a ton of dips and salsas right next to them. They know most people are likelier to grab a dip or salsa if they put them right in front of the chips, making them hard to miss.

Some bigger city supermarkets have actual television screens at the checkout. I’m sorry, but it’s not so you can catch up on your favorite programs while running errands. Instead, you’ll see promos for food items, people talking about a particular food, someone cooking a recipe, etc. This is all to inform you about all of the other foods available that you just haven’t bought yet.

How To Avoid These Tricks?

Now that you understand the tricks supermarkets use, you can avoid them, which will help you stick to that oh-so-important grocery budget. You can also wear headphones and play some fast music when shopping. You’ll not only spend less because you’re walking faster down the aisles, but you’ll also burn a few extra calories. Win-Win!

Eating before you go can help curb any cravings created by the smells you will encounter when grocery shopping. And don’t avoid looking at the pretty flowers. Instead, take a mental snapshot and give them a good smell, which is absolutely free. Feel better? And grab a handbasket if you have a short shopping list, so you can only buy so many items.

Although much easier said than done, if at all possible, leave the little ones at home. They’ll most likely get bored quickly, especially when strapped into a cart that allows them little freedom, which will distract you from your mission of saving money. Also, most parents end up buying something for them if they promise to behave, which is why another supermarket trick to get you to spend more money is to put kids’ products at their eye level.

Reviewed November 2023

About the Author

Laura Foor is a freelance writer who specializes in writing quality articles for online publication for 6+ years. Graduating from UCB with a degree in Environmental Sciences in 2009, she also works part time as a Farmers Market manager where she focuses on healthy food education.

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