10 sneaky ways the grocery store tricks you into spending more

March 15, 2018

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The grocery store is designed with you in mind — to encourage you to spend more, that is.

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Hard-to-navigate design

The maze-like store gets you lost while looking for the stuff on your list. The more items you pass on the way, the more likely you are to buy non-necessities.

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Placing the necessities far away

Why is the dairy aisle often the furthest from the entrance? The distance forces customers to pass items they may not need, creating more opportunities to buy.

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Putting the most popular brands in the center of aisles

Customers will have to pass many items stocked in one aisle to get to the one they're actually looking for, since it's strategically placed there.

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Charm pricing

When items are priced one or two cents below a round number — like $9.99 — your brain thinks you're snagging a deal.

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Giant shopping carts

Big shopping carts = bigger purchases. When you double the size of a cart, consumers will buy 40% more, marketing consultant Martin Lindstrom told Today.

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"Open the wallet" pricing

The entrance of the supermarket is often crowded with "sale" signs to make you believe you've started your shopping experience by saving money. You haven't.

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Music with a slow beat

One study found pleasant music increased the likelihood of shoppers spending more. Another found tunes with a slow beat led customers to linger and browse more.

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Catering to the body's senses

Smells, like that of freshly baked bread, captivate customers — especially those that shop hungry. Bright colors, too, might inspire some unplanned purchases.

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An overwhelming amount of choice

There are thousands of items in the average supermarket, demanding a lot of decision-making. Eventually, the brain gives up and makes more impulse buys.

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Tiny checkout lanes

Those lanes are purposefully narrow: If customers have second thoughts about an item, they may neglect to return it — getting out of the lane is uncomfortable.

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