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How can I Save Money While Grocery Shopping?

By Deborah Ng
Updated May 17, 2024
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There's nothing random about supermarket product placement. When it comes to the grocery store, every single product is placed in a well-thought-out location. If this concerns you, some tips are provided below to assist you in spending less money at the grocery store and teach you about some common marketing ploys.

Write up a shopping list and take advantage of discounts: If you purchase only those items on your shopping list, you won't overspend. Who needs all those expensive impulse items anyway? Study your weekly supermarket flyer and identify "loss leaders." These are sales items being sold at a "loss" in order to "lead" you into the store to buy pricier items. Try and plan your shopping list around loss leader items and stock up. Combine coupons and rebates with sales items for extra savings. The trick is to never pay full price on anything.

Shop the perimeter of the store first: Items such as milk, bread, meats, dairy and fresh fruits and vegetables are typically located around the perimeter of the store. If you shop for these items first, you'll fill your cart with the groceries most important to your family. Afterwards, you can collect the rest of the items on your list. Marketing teams recommend placing sales items in "end cap" displays at the front and rear of each aisle. It's their hope you'll walk up and down the aisles in search of these end caps, throwing random items in your cart along the way. If you shop the perimeter first and stick to your list, this is less likely to happen.

Look beyond eye level: Pricier name brand items are placed on shelves at eye level. This is because marketing executives feel shoppers would prefer to reach for attractive packaging in a convenient location rather than hunt for a bargain. Moreover, items attractive to kids are placed at a kid's eye level. If you look higher or lower on the shelves, you're bound to find bargains.

Eat before you shop: Have you ever noticed the first thing to hit you when you enter the supermarket is the smell of fresh baked goods? There's a reason for this as well. Baked goods are located at the entrance to the store so the aroma of fresh bread and other treats will make you hungry. Hungry people tend to shop more impulsively.

Leave the family at home: If you leave the kids at home, there are less people filling the cart with their must-have items.

Shop with cash: You'll never be tempted to overspend if you leave credit and ATM cards at home and bring only enough cash for the food on your list.

If you follow just a few of the tips, you're bound to save money. Don't give in to temptation and convenience. Take the time to plan out a list and be aware of common marketing ploys.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon113227 — On Sep 23, 2010

Follow blogs or websites that post weekly store sales and match them to all available coupons. They typically show you what your out-of-pocket expense will be, plus whether you'll receive store coupons in return. Often you end up making money if planned right!

By bestcity — On Apr 03, 2010

You are so right osmosis, but with or without coupons we apparently throw away more than 10 percent of food we buy.

It is really smart to buy what we are really going to need, not what we might need, especially if it is perishable food.

By osmosis — On Mar 29, 2008

And don't forget not to use coupons for items you won't use or wouldn't normally buy. A lot of us get tricked into doing that and then the food just sits on the shelf until it goes bad. If you're not going to use it, it is NOT a bargain!

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