8 Ways Grocery Stores Get You to Spend


It happens to the best of us. Without even really thinking about it, we end up with a basket full of groceries, when we really just wanted to buy a tomato and a bag of rice for dinner that night. Though it may not make our pocketbooks, or our bulging cupboards, very happy, it sure makes the supermarkets happy. Indeed, the marketing minds behind your local grocery store haven’t let any detail go unnoticed when it comes to creating the perfect environment for you to fork over your cash. Click through to read about some of the surprising ways supermarkets get you to spend.

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1. They Understaff Check Stands.

Sometimes it feels like you spend more time waiting in line than you do, well, shopping. And that’s no accident; supermarkets want you to wait in line as long as possible, so that you’ll be more likely to pick up one of the impulse buys the checkstands are lined with. Think about it: how often do you leaf through a magazine or stare down that candy bar when you’re waiting your turn?

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2. They Put the Most Common Items in the Back.

Though you may have only intended to stock up on milk and eggs, you somehow leave with a basket full of stuff. How did that happen? Well, for one thing staple foods are in the back of the store. That way, you’ll need to walk past all types of things you weren’t planning on purchasing before you make it to the dairy case.

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3. The Stuff at the End of the Aisle Isn’t Always on Sale.

You know those big, showy displays at the end of the aisle that seem to be promoting great bargains? That’s not always the case. These prime slots are often paid for by food manufacturers, and don’t always offer the best deal.

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4. They Put the Bakery & Flowers at the Front.

Supermarkets often put the floral and bakery departments right at the entrance of the store. One major reason is the smell — pleasant odors have actually been shown to increase a shopper’s tendency to buy impulsively. These departments also set a good “tone” for your shopping experience.

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5. They Get Rid of the Dollar Signs.

We all think of spending money when we see a dollar sign. But just the number on its own? Well, that has been shown to be more associated with saving money. Grocery stores sometimes remove the dollar sign from price tags to get us to be more willing to spend.

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6. The Put the Most Expensive Items at Eye Level.

Like any profit-making entity, supermarkets are in the business of making as much money as possible. They’ll get more of your hard-earned dollars if you fork them over for the more expensive brand name items than they will for the lower-priced generic brands. So they want you to spot the higher priced items first, and they do that by putting them at eye level.

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7. That Coupon or Discount is Too Good to be True.

Or, rather, it can be too good to be true. Sometimes, stores will bump up the price of an item before putting it on “sale,” to make it look like a better bargain than it is. Other times, stores will leave the sale tags on items after the sale has ended, or put them up before it starts. One more trick? Stores assume that coupons will get customers to purchase products they normally wouldn’t because they think they’re a good deal. Often times, they’re really not. Don’t take coupons at face value!

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8. They Add More Services.

Does your grocery store have a cafe, a pharmacy, a bank, a dry cleaner, a DVD dispenser or any of other extras that aren’t, well, groceries. Odds are that it does. Stores do this to get you to spend as much time as possible, and as frequently as possible, in their store.

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Sandra feliciano
Sandra K7 months ago

The reason that the refrigerated items like dairy and meat are in the back of the store is for two main reasons: the power generators and back up fuel sources that power the refrigerators are located there and most importantly, the delivery truck pulls 'round to the back of the store for convenient and logical unloading...now the store capitalizes from this setup by implementing psychological cues that get the consumer to spend. Any business that does not take full advantage of the wealth of consumer psychology is foolish and probably won't stay in business for long.

Sonia M
Sonia Mabout a year ago

Good reminders thanks for sharing

Jeramie D
Jeramie D1 years ago


William C
William C2 years ago


W. C
W. C2 years ago

Thank you.

Linda F.
.5 years ago

shop the perimeter used to be the rule, stores are now changing and putting junk on the edges and the fruit and veg in the middle. if it is in a box don't buy it. you are paying for sugar and salt.

Kayleigh Harter
Kayleigh Harter5 years ago

I was already wise to most of these tricks, but that doesn't stop me from occasionally being taken in by a seemingly great deal or making an impulse purchase. Strictly adhering to a shopping list and comparing the "per unit" price is a great way to avoid most of these pitfalls, though.

Frances Darcy
Frances D5 years ago

Itry to get only what I need, but usually come home with LESS, I do forget things.

Chinmayee Jog
Chinmayee Jog6 years ago

I only go in to get what I need, and a list also helps to keep you focused! Sneaky indeed...

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson6 years ago

great tip.. don't shop on an empty stomach!