5 ways to be a savvy shopper (2024)

Many of us have noticed that our grocery bills has increased since lockdown started and we're spending more than ever on food. It's been harder than usual to book online deliveries which has meant more time in the supermarket - and more opportunities for retailers to tempt us into spending more!

If you become wise to the tricks retailers use to persuade you to part with your cash and you can avoid overspending. All you need is a little understanding of consumer psychology and how it can be used against us! We've rounded up five common retailer ploys to watch out for, all of which are designed to encourage you to spend, spend, spend.

Nail the shop layout

You've probably already realised that nothing in a shop is there by accident. Every item on a shelf has been purposefully placed to get you to buy – and spend – more. But you may be surprised to learn that research from Whistl shows that a whopping 60–70% of what we buy is entirely unplanned (by the shopper at any rate!) and the chances are, the retailer has played a part in getting you to impulse buy.

For instance, retailers hide away essential items such as milk and bread at the back of the shop so that you are forced to walk the through the rest of the aisles to get to it - and past shelves laden with enticing special offers and other goodies.

What’s more, studies show that once we start making our way through the ‘racetrack’-style aisles, we are conditioned to go up and down each one automatically, which maximises the number of products we see on the way. One way to get around this it to start your shop at the ‘wrong’ end of a supermarket or department store (try starting at the point furthest from the entrance). You're likely to spend less, if you do.

Always head out with a list and allow yourself a maximum of one or two impulse buys that you can afford. You are only human, after all!

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Don't panic

Have you ever noticed how shops urge you to ‘act quickly’ before ‘unmissable deals’ on ‘must-have’ products end? Or maybe you have felt pressured to buy something in bulk, simply because stock seems to be running low? Sound familiar? Shops do this on purpose because it creates a sense of urgency for us shoppers. Known as the 'scarcity effect', it means that we want something more when we think that it might run out.

Resist the temptation to panic buy and understand that stock levels will rise and fall, but your bank balance doesn’t need to follow suit.

Size matters

Much like how a goldfish continues to grow to fill its container, the amount we buy is directly related to the size of our shopping trolley. In fact, according to Martin Lindstrom, marketing consultant and author of Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy, when retailers doubled the size of their shopping trolleys, people bought 37% more. Yikes!

Beat the retailers at their own game and grab a basket so you won’t over spend.

Do your maths

Around 40% of groceries in the UK are sold on promotion, according to research from Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), and there are many times where these deals really are 'too good to be true'.

Multibuys, for instance, can be misleading when shops increase the price of a single item just as the offer begins. This means shoppers end up spending more per item than they would have done before the offer, so it is crucial to do your maths carefully.

Make sure that you're not paying more than necessary and check the unit price on the sticker (price per 100ml or per kg, for example). In most supermarkets, food will be clearly priced by weight or volume across the store to make it easier for consumers to compare products and spot the best deal.

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The compromise effect

Research from the University of Chester shows that shoppers are more likely to choose the middle option in a selection rather than the options at the pricier or cheaper ends of the spectrum. For example, if you are shopping for a nice bottle of wine or a flat-screen television, few of us actually buy the most costly on offer, or the very cheapest. We tend to go for something the middle of the price range and retailers know this. That's why they stack shelves accordingly putting the items that are the most profitable at eye-level.

The result? We walk away believing that we got a good deal, but the retailer is likely to have pocketed a tidy profit because you spent more than you planned to.

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5 ways to be a savvy shopper (2024)


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