Supermarkets have more tricks up their sleeve than even David Copperfield. All of their tricks are devised to part you from your money. Once you know about their tricks you can look out for them and, hopefully, avoid them. Keep more of your money in your wallet.
The tricks you need to be aware of are very varied. Pay attention.
Raising prices before dropping them again
Some products may cost £1 normally. The price is then raised to £2 for a week. Then the week after it will be on special offer. The price will be slashed by 50% to… you guessed it… £1. So, no discount at all. Just a doubling of the price for a week. The supermarket has just stolen your money.
The fake 2-for-the-price-1 offers
My local Tesco store does this. I’ve seen cherry tomatoes for sale at 99p a packet. The next day they have an amazing 2-for-1 offer. But the price has shot up to £1.99 per pack. Yesterday I could get 2 packets for £1.98. Today I pay £1.99 for them, despite their offer. Totally dishonest.
What a shabby way to treat customers.
Premium crisps next to the beer
This isn’t just about crisps (or chips, as you Americans call them). Supermarkets usually display similar products together, but sometimes they don’t. Why not? If they display certain products together they have more chance of selling the complementary product.
In the case of beer, they may display crisps next to them. The idea is that if you’re buying beer you’ll want a snack to go with it. It’s easy to pick up whatever snack they display in that area.
But here’s the catch. They won’t just be any crisps. They’ll be premium crisps. They cost more. They get to take more of your money. Don’t fall for it. If you want crisps with your beer, go buy them from the aisle that has a variety of crisps to choose from.
Products at eye level that are more expensive
It’s well-known that products at eye level sell better. So, what products do you see at eye level? Yes, that’s right — the expensive products. Supermarkets don’t want you buying cheaper products. They know shoppers are too lazy to bend down or reach up.
If you want to buy a product that’s at eye level, look up and down to compare it with similar products that are probably cheaper.
Comparing prices to competitors
In the UK, supermarkets often like to brag that they’re cheaper than competitor chains. The media also play along with this game with comparison charts for their readers.
So, what’s wrong with that? It’s what they don’t tell you. Supermarket A may indeed be cheaper than Supermarket B, but the local fresh produce market might be 50% cheaper. Fresh produce is rarely cheaper at a supermarket. That’s why you’ll never see a comparison of their prices with local markets.
At my local Tesco, I’ve seen packs of 2 avocados for £1, while at my local market you get 4 for £1. Tesco is double the price.
Large trolleys encourage overspending
Have you noticed that many supermarkets have super-large trolleys? It’s because you’re likely to spend more.
Go shopping with a small basket and I can guarantee you’ll spend less.
Supermarkets like to encourage you to do a large weekly shop. But guess what? Around 40% of food in the UK is thrown away. The huge trolleys encourage us to buy more than we need. Much of the food then goes to waste.
But supermarkets don’t care. They make more money. You waste more money.
Reduced weights — very sneaky
You may buy a product regularly and haven’t seen any price rises. But what you didn’t notice is that you’re getting less of the product than you used to. Maybe you used to get 300 grams in the package but now only get 250 grams. That’s a 20% rise. Sneaky. And probably the actual package size didn’t change. It’s just less full than it used to be.
Different prices in different stores
The same supermarket chain will have different pricing in different stores. If you usually shop at a specific branch, go check the prices at a different branch. You may be surprised at the difference in pricing.
Damaged products at full price
You may see a basket of random products that have damaged packaging. You may also see a sign above it saying something like “Clearance Goods”.
You may assume that the prices have been reduced because of the damaged packaging. Not so fast. Often they are full price.
Sweets and chocolates at the checkout
You’ve finished shopping but the supermarket still wants you to spend more. That’s where the checkout placement comes in. If there’s a queue and you have children, there’s a good chance you’ll spend extra on those expensive treats that will rot your children’s teeth. No, supermarkets don’t care about your kids. They just want your money.
Your money, that’s what we want — Supermarkets everywhere.
Now that you’re aware of some of the sneaky and downright dishonest tricks that supermarkets use, you can hopefully spend less the next time you go shopping.