7 Tricks You Still Fall For At The Grocery Store

Grocery stores have turned into much more than grocery stores today.   They don’t just sell us frozen foods, vegetables, meats, and bread, but today they have become a virtual cornucopia of products and services that range across many different spectrums.  However, at their core, grocery stores aren’t much different than taking a trip to the Wynn in Las Vegas.  They are there to separate you from your money.  As I try to look out for you as a consumer, I thought I would give you the seven best tricks I see grocery stores employ today and how you can become a smarter shopper at the store.

  • Dairy Is In The Back – You might think the reason that dairy products are the last thing you buy in a grocery store is because you don’t want them to get too warm before you check out, but the reality is that dairy is typically in the back or the last aisle because the grocery stores know you need this staple more than any other item you buy. Grocery stores are intentionally designed to move right to left and not left to right.  This is essentially the way we drive, we walk around tracks, etc. So, a smart idea for you might be to actually go backwards and start with dairy first.


  • They Want You (and) Your Kids To Look Eye Level – Haven’t had time to get those deep knee bends in this morning? Then just head on out to the grocery store. Grocery stores are infamous for placing items that they want you to buy at eye level, and often you can find a store or generic brand at the lower or bottom level for a better price with the same ingredients. For particular aisles that pertain to kids such as juice boxes, they also strategically place boxes at the kids eye level for the same reason.


  • Buy 3, Get One Free Of Something You Don’t Need – Just because there is a SALE on the end cap for box 2 boxes of cereal and you get one free doesn’t mean that you actually need that item.  I’m not saying that these are necessarily good deals, but the store tricks you into buying items that you don’t need which makes you spend more money.  If you are going to buy an end cap item, make sure the price is still good and it is actually on your list.


  • Testing Your Senses – Did you ever wonder why the florist and bakery are the two things that hit you in the face when you enter the grocery store? Cinnabon was famous for pumping that cinnamon smell when you got near the store in the mall because of how powerful it drew your sense in to make a purchase.  It’s best to pass on these two items when you start shopping and end with them.  The trick here is to put you in a good mood right away so you shop more.


  • 10 items for $10 – Just because the store gives you ten of anything doesn’t necessarily make it a good deal. You need to look at the item somewhere else in the store to see if the $1 they are charging for you for the 1 item is actually in itself a good grocery shopping deal. Sometimes it may work out in your favor, but often it is just a ploy to get you to spend more money.


  • Wear Your Headphones – You may have never thought of this, but now that you think of it were they playing some Michael McDonald hit from 30 years ago that seemed to be moving as slow as mud. There is a very strategic reason they play slow music to get you to move slower while you shop to spend more money.  This is why you need your own music!


  • Stay Away From The Samples – All of the major grocery stores love to give you samples. This isn’t just a ploy to try to get you to buy those items as you might imagine, but what it does is slow you down. The more time you spend in the store, the more money you will spend!!

About the author  ⁄ Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves

Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves


My friends and family all think I’m a workaholic, but I say I’m just a guy that loves to help people do better in life.

My mother is still the only one that calls me by my real name Theodore Michael, my wife calls me Teddy, but for the rest of you it is just plain old Ted.

Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved money and being an entrepreneur. In fact, I still have cassette tapes of me talking to my grandmother at the age of five and my mother tells me all the time how much I played with money as a kid...

Read More About Ted Here

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor regarding your individual situation. 

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  • Avatar
    May 27, 2017

    I have fallen for many of the tricks above, especially the samples and 10 items for $10. It’s interesting how grocery stores are designed to get us to buy as much as possible. I guess their strategy does work in many cases!

  • Avatar
    May 30, 2017

    I’ve also noticed many of these tricks over the years.
    Another thing grocery stores do is move the items around every few weeks or so. I usually know where every single item is after shopping in one place after a while, so when they start scrambling things around it’s clear they want people to spend a lot more time in the store searching for what they need. Clever trick, yet kind of annoying when you’re in a hurry.

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