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How Supermarkets Try and Make You Spend

Tantalizing scents, a soothing atmosphere and “must haves” located way in back are how supermarkets leave you scratching your head over how much more you spent than you planned to.

The supermarket business is a huge one, with countless chains vying for your business and pulling out all stops to capture it. To get an idea how big the industry is, and how many consumer dollars are allocated to it, food is the third-largest household expense, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

supermarkets-make-you-spendThe average spending for a family of four—mom, dad and two children—for food eaten at home is roughly $250 a week, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

And supermarkets do all they can to get you to open your wallet. They strive for inviting environments that employ soft colors, calming music and appealing displays.

They also cannily position products.

Shelf layout
Retailers spend tens of millions of dollars each year trying to best configure their store layouts so that more aisles are traveled. This can mean placing signs for promotions in the front and locating the merchandise in the back.

Want chips? The salsa is going to be nearby. And probably one aisle over is the soda.

As a result, a trip for bread, sandwich meat, paper goods, cleaning supplies and maybe a few goodies turns into shopping bill of $100 or more, with the question being, “How did I do that?”

There are also “loss leaders” that are advertised at considerably low prices to entice you to pay the store a visit.

Placement of essentials
As in real estate, it is all about “Location, location, location.”

Meat, a staple, is in the back. It is placed there to get you to walk through the store. Necessities, like milk and fruit, are to the far sides, so you have to travel across the store to get to them. Of course there are going to be times when you walk through the store to your benefit, seeing something you needed, but forgot. But best to either have the fortitude to stick with plans to run in and run out. It pays to know exactly where the item you want is so you can make a beeline to it, and not be distracted by other items.

It also helps if you have eaten before you go—less chance for impulsive purchases.

And definitely go in armed with a shopping list— with a week’s worth of groceries to keep you from making extra trips—and stick to it.


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