Written by: Cally Worden
No, we’re not talking about where to park, but how to make the most of your food budget. Supermarkets invest many thousands of hours and shed loads of cash in devising ways to get us to spend more in store. To avoid falling prey to their clever marketing ploys, you need to keep your wits about you as you trundle your trolley up and down the aisles. Here’s how to beat the system.
DON’T Visit the Store
From the second we walk through those automatic doors we shoppers are vulnerable. The very air we breathe inside a supermarket is designed to alter our brainwaves and make us more likely to slip a few extras into our trolleys. I’m not joking – from irresistible baking aromas to the stimulating scent of hot coffee, supermarkets use smells to boost our mood and make us more susceptible to picking up certain products. It’s the oldest trick in the book, but it works and most of us don’t even think about it.
Beyond the smells, the store itself plays host to a raft of additional temptations. Products are strategically placed on the shelves before us, nudging us in the direction of certain brands. Manufacturers actually pay a premium for the best spot, we unsuspecting shoppers remain largely oblivious to these tactics. You may be swayed from your brand of choice by simple product placement.
And then there are the cookery demos, sample stands and freebies. Who can resist a nibble of cheese or the slurp of a free beverage – especially when the air in store is perhaps kept a little drier than normal, making us thirsty. You may think you are not swayed by these obvious freebies, but chances are, even if you don’t select the actual product you have tasted, your choices as your progress around the store will have been influenced by your moment of indulgence.
You can avoid all of these temptations by shopping online.
DO Make a List
Whether you shop in store or online a list is essential. Plan your meals a week ahead of time, buy only those items you know you will need, plus a standard re-stock of other household stuff that may be running low. Without a list you leave yourself wide-open to temptation from every angle.
The array of Buy-One-Get-One-Free, 2-for-1 and other multi-buy offers in store can be overwhelming. The placement of these offers at the ends of aisles and close to the tills is carefully thought through. They catch you in motion, giving the sense that you will miss out if you don’t grab them quick. Some deals like this can be good, especially if you can buy stocks of items that will last, which you have space to freeze or store. But often, particularly where fresh produce is concerned, these deals simply tempt you to buy more than you need. You may then overindulge at home, or let food go to waste when it goes off before you have time to use it. Not such a great deal after all.
DO Speak Out
If you feel that any items in your weekly shop are of lower quality than you would expect, or if you find that a ‘deal’ is actually not that great after all, then do be ready to complain. Online shoppers are especially vulnerable to receiving less-than-best items in their delivery. In store, you have the chance to make your own selections and inspect items before you pay. So, if your delivery falls short of expectations then it’s important to point it out. You may even get a voucher thrown in as an apology.
DON’T Sweat the Loyalty Thing
It’s true, most of us have a preferred store – we know the brands, the layout and the types of deals on offer. Familiarity is a great thing, but it can leave you open to exploitation. Most supermarkets will have stunningly low and attractive prices on certain popular goods, they make up their profit on other items that find their way into your trolley once you are in store. Be prepared to shop around and change your shopping habits. Online sites will be keen to secure your business, registering, even if you don’t plan to buy from them could prompt immediate delivery of vouchers to your inbox. Use them, and move on. There will doubtless be more to come.
DO Shop Alone
Not always possible of course, but pester power from kids and distractions from your partner make you more likely to spend more than you intend. You’ll also get the job done much more quickly if you go it alone, leaving you free to enjoy a nice cuppa when you get home. Hey, you can dream, right?!
DON’T Neglect your Locals
Small independent shops can often offer better deals and higher quality local produce than is on offer in the supermarkets. As can local markets. Don’t forget to support your local providers, who respect loyalty and often offer significant end-of-day discounts on fresh items. This local approach to shopping helps the economy and the environment too, by reducing the carbon footprint of food migration. Do your bit, and save a bit of cash too.