Friday 30 September 2016

Charlie Weston: Slick supermarkets get us to fork out more than we need to spend

A month's worth of groceries end up in the brown bin. A good chunk of this is down to slick supermarkets getting us to fork out more than we need to spend

Published 11/03/2016 | 02:30

Supermarket dash: ask yourself if you need to use a trolley every time you shop
Supermarket dash: ask yourself if you need to use a trolley every time you shop

SUPERMARKETS use sneaky tricks to encourage us to buy more than we need.

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No wonder the Environmental Protection Agency says the average Irish household wastes €700 a year.

This means that as a nation, we are throwing away more than €1bn worth of food every year.

Think about that €700. That is the equivalent cost of around four or five weekly shops for a family.

So, a month's worth of groceries end up in the brown bin. Of course, not all of the food waste is avoidable, but a good chunk of it is down to slick supermarkets getting us to fork out more than we need to spend.

Smarter shopping can ensure we stop spending unnecessarily.

A fortune is spent every year by supermarket chains working out ways to ensure we shell out more than needed.

There are ways to ensure you do not make it easy-peasy for them to fleece you.

Ask yourself if you always need to use a trolley. They are a huge tool used to entice us to part with more cash than we need to.

We all know we should not shop when we are hungry, as it makes us grab more food than we need, but there are other sneaky tricks being used along the aisles. We also know to use a list, to ensure we are not disorganised.

We are also very aware of the role that the senses play in marketing. When you walk in the door, you smell bread baking or a chicken roasting - and then you want food and lots of it. Suddenly you are a much less disciplined shopper.

But how often have you thought about the special offer on an extra large pack? This is to get you into the habit of buying larger packs, which revert to a higher price a week or two later.

Grocery chains are also good at pushing up our overall weekly spend by offering money-off vouchers. They know, from our loyalty cards, how much we spend every week.

They are calculating enough to offer money-offer vouchers that can only be used if you go above the normal amount you spend, knowing that once you breach the normal spending amount there is a good chance you will keep doing so when the voucher offer ends.

Be aware that the spacious area at the front of the shop is to help you adapt to the store's environment and slow you down. The less rushed the shopper, the more they are likely to buy, according to British consumer magazine Which?.

Worth keeping in mind is that supermarkets deliberately place expensive items, like a nice bunch of lilies, at the entrance. This is because you are more likely to buy luxuries at the beginning of your shop before you have spent a chunk of money on essentials like meat and vegetables.

Not for nothing are the everyday staples like bread and milk at the back of the shop.

This is so shoppers are lured into buying other products on the way to getting the essentials. Which? magazine claims that "supermarkets want you to be enticed by other goods before you get to what you need".

Finally, be conscious of the fact that two-for-one offers can save you money but check how much one item costs first.

If there is not much of a difference in cost, you may be buying something you don't really need because the offer seems so good.

Irish Independent

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