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Home >> Grocery Shopping Tips >> Step 9: No-Fail Grocery Shopping

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Step 9: No-Fail Grocery Shopping

What sense do stores try to make you use when you first walk into them?

A. Sight
B. Sound
C. Smell
D. Touch

Answer C.

The first thing stores try to do is hit you with the fresh smell of food (that is why bakery goods are often at the front of the store) to get your hunger juices flowing so you will spend more money. That is why it is recommended that you always shop on a full stomach.

Store Selling Tactics

Before we get into ways of utilizing coupons to save money, it helps to understand the way that stores sell the products and entice you to spend more than you really want. By taking the time to understand the different ways grocery stores encourage you to spend money, you can combat their strategies and spend money only on the merchandise you really need.

Most people view a grocery store as simply a place to purchase food and other household necessities. In reality, grocery stores are built to get you to buy more than you really need. It's essential that you recognize their sales tactics so that when you walk into a grocery store, you walk out with what your need instead of what the grocery store wants to sell you.

Here are a number of ways that grocery stores manipulate you into spending more than you had planned as well as some simple steps you can take to counter them:

Smell: One of the first senses you'll use upon entering a grocery store is your sense of smell. Most grocery stores will have the mouth-watering smell of freshly baked goods hit you the minute you walk into the store. The reason is simple. The enticing smell of freshly baked goods will make you hungry. If you feel hungry while you shop, you're likely to spend a lot more money than if you are shopping when you aren't hungry.

The best way to counter this tactic is to go grocery shopping only when you're full. If you can't shop after eating a meal, drink a couple of glasses of water before leaving to make you feel full. Shopping while you're full will make it much easier to resist all those fantastic smelling baked items.

Overall Store Layout: Have you noticed that when you want to buy a few staple products, you have to walk to every corner of the grocery store to get them? Grocery stores are not laid out for the convenience of their customers. They are carefully planned to keep you in the store as long as possible. Grocery stores know that the longer that they can keep you in the store, the more money you are likely to spend. By making you walk to every corner of the store, it's more likely that you'll make impulse purchases.

Although you'll have to travel all over the store to get the products you want, you can reduce impulse purchases to zero by making a shopping list and sticking to it. Staying organized and making a single trip to the grocery store each week instead of several smaller trips will also greatly reduce the time you spend in the store and the chances that you'll purchase items you don't really need.

Item Display Layout: Have you ever wondered why higher priced items and brand names are usually at eye level? Stores know that you're much more likely to purchase an item that you can easily see rather than an item you have to stop and search for. The result is that grocery stores place the most expensive products at eye level knowing you are more likely to purchase them.

You can easily combat this tactic by taking a few seconds to search the upper and lower shelves. Similar products are usually placed together and doing a short search of the surrounding area many times will reveal a competing product at a much better price.

Product Appearance: As you walk down the grocery store isles, your will see a lot of reds and yellows. Stores and product manufacturers know that these bright colors attract the eye.

In order to combat this tactic, you need to remember that if a product grabs your attention, it doesn't mean that you should buy it. Simply keep focused on your shopping list and disregard the product packaging.

Packaging Size: You have probably noticed that the size of a package sometimes has little reference to the actual quantity of the product inside. Manufacturers know that most people automatically assume that larger sized packaging means a better deal. This is no longer always correct. Although not as wide spread as other tactics to get you to pay more, some large sized packages are not as good of a deal than their smaller sized counterparts. Manufacturers hope you'll assume "bigger is better" and not compare the per unit cost.

You need to learn to calculate the per unit or per weight cost of a product instead of merely grabbing the largest box available. Once you do this, you will find that sometimes a smaller sized package of a product is a better deal than buying the same item in a larger package.

Check-Out Layout: The check-out aisles of grocery stores are packed with every conceivable item these days. Grocery stores know that while you are in line waiting to pay for your goods, they have a captive audience. They squeeze as many different products into this area and as a result, earn a large amount on impulse sales.

One of the best ways to avoid the check-out isle temptations is shop during off-peak  hours. Try to avoid shopping on the weekend since grocery stores are more crowded then. It's also best to avoid shopping in the evenings when everyone has just left work. The best times to shop are in the early morning or late at night when the aisles and check out lanes are practically bare. This will allow you to get in and out of the grocery store as quickly as possible.

By understanding how the grocery stores attempt to influence your spending habits, you are in the position to use coupons to your greatest advantage. With this knowledge in hand, you're in control and will have a much easier time reducing your weekly grocery bill.

Understanding "Sale" Items

Grocery store sale items are a shopper's best friend and where you can significantly cut your grocery shopping costs. It's important to know, however, that all sale items are not created equally although the grocery store would like you to believe so. In fact, there can be a huge difference in the amount you save depending on how a product is put on sale and it's vital that you not be fooled into thinking that everything that has the words "sale" or "bargain" above it is really that. Here are the type of sales and bargains that grocery stores typically carry and what they represent to you:

Loss Leaders: These are the super discounted items that stores sell at below their cost in order to attract you into the store and are your number one friend when you do your weekly grocery shopping. While the store will lose a bit of money on the particular loss leader item, grocery stores know that most people won't purchase only that one loss leader item. Once in the store, people are likely to do all their shopping there and grocery stores make up for the loss of that particular item with all the other items you purchase.

Loss leader items are typically discounted at more than 25% of the products normal price, and often much more. 50% off in the form of buy one, get one free are also common in these promotions. If you are able to combine a loss leader with a coupon, you can often save more than 75% off the original price and sometimes get the product for free.

Sale Items: These are products that most people think of when the word "sale" is talked about. Typically these items will be discounted at 10% or more of their normal retail price. When sale items are combined with coupons, discounts in the 50% off area can usually be achieved.

Phantom Sale Items: These are items that the store marks as a sale item, but there is no to little savings in reality. In these cases, the store hopes that you look only at the advertising and not the real price of the product. These can often be found in end of isle displays mixed among true sale items making it even more confusing for you as a shopper. Having a grocery price book will go a long way in helping you avoid getting taken by the phantom sales.

The important thing to remember when grocery shopping is to focus on the price of the product and not all the fancy advertising and slogans promoting the product. Take the time to check the other brands and see if there is a better deal. Also, remember that if you weren't planning to buy the item and you don't really need it, then it really isn't a bargain for you no matter what the price. Only consider purchasing those items that you regularly use and you have a need for.

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