15 Supermarket Spending Traps to Avoid

Did you know that you can save hundreds each month by avoiding Supermarket Spending Traps? Here are some easy tips to help you save more on your groceries each month by being aware of common strategies that supermarkets use to get customers to spend more.

Grocery shopping spending traps to avoid

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Have you ever went into the grocery store for one small thing and left with a cart full? It happens to the best of us. We may have just finished work and are hungry and tired. So, we head for the item we are supposed to pick up and along the way, we get distracted by everything else in our path. 

We get pulled in with the sale prices and smells coming from the bakery. Our stomachs are grumbling and we can’t resist picking up the prepacked box of cookies telling ourselves that the kids will love them. But, knowing that we won’t be able to resist sneaking a few on the drive home.

The cart gets fuller and fuller. Before, we know it we are walking out of the store with $100 dollars less in our pockets and realizing that we didn’t need half of the stuff we are loading into our car.

Guilt sets in and we vow that we won’t ever do that again. But, a couple of weeks later the same thing happens and we realize that we blew our grocery budget for the whole month.

Does this sound like you? You want to save money on groceries but there is always something sabotaging your budget.

Believe it or not, it’s easier than you think to save money on groceries. There are so many ways that you can reduce your grocery bill every month and save that budget from spiraling out of control.

One of the best ways that I have found to save money on groceries is through meal planning. You can save so much money just planning for a week or month’s worth of meals ahead of time. If you would like to learn how to meal plan you can check out my post, A Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning in 8 Easy Steps.

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Meal planning is the best preparation to save money before you shop. But, what about while you are in the store? In order to be successful at saving money while grocery shopping, there are some supermarket spending traps that you need to be aware of so you are saving the most amount of money at the grocery store.

Here are 15 Supermarket Spending Traps that you need to watch out for.

Trap#1- Delicious smells

Have you ever noticed when you walk into the grocery store that the hot goods and bakery are usually at the front of the store? They do this for a reason. It’s supposed to feel welcoming. They want to entice you with the wonderful smells of freshly baked goods because they know that when you are hungry you will want to buy more.

Solution:

Avoid going to the grocery store when you are hungry. Always try and shop after you have eaten a meal or it can definitely cause you to make impulse purchases.

Trap#2- Fruits and Veggies at the front of the store

Another thing you will notice at the front of the store is the fruits and vegetables. All the bright colors are supposed to put us in a good mood encouraging us to spend more money. 

It also motivates us to fill our carts with everything that is healthy at the beginning of our shopping trip so that we are more relaxed about picking up guilty treats later on. We justify indulgences because of the healthy choices we made earlier on.

Solution:

Make a list and only buy what you need.  I have found that focusing on my list instead of being distracted by everything thing else helps me stay on task and on budget.

Fruits and vegetables

Trap#3- Prepackaged Fruits and Vegetables

There are prepackaged fruits and veggies everywhere. Yes, it’s convenient but you are also paying premium prices for that convenience.

Solution:

You can save the money by cutting your fruit and veggies up when you get home. This will also save you time throughout the week as you can just grab and go.

Trap#4- Dairy and Eggs at the back

Did you ever wonder why dairy and eggs are always at the back of the store?  They do this so you have to walk by aisle after aisle of prepacked and convenient foods. They hope that the more products you pass by the more will end up in your cart.

Solution:

Stick to your list and only get the things that you wrote down. If you only need milk than that is what you should get.

Trap#5- End cap displays

You may find yourself drawn to the end cap displays because you think that this is where you will find all the sale items and while this can sometimes be the case, many times the end caps are filled with products that manufacturers will pay extra to have featured.

Solution:

Always check unit prices to make sure you are getting the best deals. Don’t assume that supermarkets are helping you out by displaying products with the best prices.

Trap#6-Brand name at eye level.

Grocery stores tend to keep brand name items eye level while keeping generic items on the lower or higher shelves. This is to encourage you to purchase more expensive brands. When we already know that most times generic items are just as good as expensive brands.

Solution:

Make sure you are looking at higher and lower shelves for store brand products to get the best price.

Trap#7- Samples

Samples, Samples Everywhere. We all love free stuff and free food is even better. But, be aware. They are offering them to get you to buy the full expensive product. Although, it’s great to try new things if you are trying to stay in budget than adding an item here and there will definitely add up.

Solution:

It may be best to avoid the samples. I know it can be hard to do but if you know you are someone that is constantly buying the product after trying the sample then skipping it will be better on your pocketbook.

Trap#8- Relaxing Music

Why is grocery store music so relaxing? They do this so that you will lose track of time. They want you to spend the most amount of time in the store so you will purchase more.

Solution:

You can try setting a timer on your phone to remind you to finish up.

Trap#9- Coupons/Sales

Be aware of coupons and sales. I love sales but make sure you are aware of the sale terms. Just because something is advertised doesn’t mean you are always getting the best deal. 

Solution:

If an item is advertised at buy 10 for $10.00. It generally doesn’t mean you have to buy all 10 items to get the sale price unless it’s indicated. You could buy a single item and get it for dollar.

Also, check your coupons to make sure you are getting the best savings. Don’t buy something just because you have a coupon no matter how much you think you will save.

grocery store aisle beverage

Trap#10- Store Layout Changes

Have you ever went into a store that you shop at all the time just to realize they have moved things around….again. It can be so frustrating. But, supermarkets do this for a reason. They don’t want you to get too comfortable knowing where certain items are. If they mix things up occasionally, you will be wandering the aisle looking for it. Their hope is that by doing this that you will see new and different products to purchase. 

Solution: 

Make a list of what you need before going into the grocery store and only buy on the list. If you have trouble finding an item….ask.

Trap#11- Pricing 

1.99 (or 1.98) vs. 2.00 pricing. Supermarkets realize that by pricing their items a few cents less they are tricking us to believe that we are getting a better deal.

Solution:

Don’t be fooled by this tactic. When grocery shopping, I will keep track of how much I am spending so I know that I am staying in budget. I round up each item to the nearest dollar. 

Trap#12-Cross-merchandising 

When I worked for a store many years ago, they were always encouraging us to cross-merchandise. This is when you are placing different products together to encourage customers to buy both products. So, for example, you may see a cereal display by the milk, or a variety of marinades by the meat. 

Solution:

Stick to your list and you won’t be tempted to pick up things that you don’t need.

Trap#13- Seasonal Item Push

Grocery stores will usually place their seasonal merchandise at the very front of the store to encourage shoppers to buy early at full price. They are on register end caps and in center aisles. 

Solution:

If you want seasonal items, then waiting until after the season is over is the best time to buy. You can get things at 50-90% off their original price. Then use them the following year.

Trap#14- Limited Quantities

Supermarkets will often advertise as having limited quantities of items. They will encourage you to buy now before they are all gone. This is just another tactic to try to get you to buy the product. 

Solution: 

Don’t fall for this trick. If you need or want the item than buy it but if not then move on.

Trap#15- Checkout counter

Impulse purchases at the checkout. Yes, they are there for a reason…candy, snacks, travel-size items priced less and right there tempting you. 

Solution:

Take this time while you are waiting to look over your grocery list. Did you remember everything? Did you stay in budget? Distract yourself so you are not looking at all the goodies surrounding you.

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Ultimately, grocery stores know that the more time you spend in the store the more likely you are to buy. So, they use these supermarket spending traps to try to get you to stay longer to expose you to more products. Being aware of these tactics can help you save money and your budget every month. 

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