What a predictable routine grocery shopping is. Most people have their lists, know their usual store inside and out, and steer to those aisles where they know they can find their favourite items.

However, no matter how long you’ve been grocery shopping at your regular store, there are sure to be plenty of little tricks that the store management has built in to make you buy more than you need and pay more than you want. Remove that wool from your eyes and look around you.

You’ll be surprised at what you see.

Overcoming Grocery Shop Tricks – Shop Alone

Did you know studies have found that when you shop with your spouse or kids, you end up increasing your spend by almost 40 percent? Also, you’ll also, in most cases, be delayed by your companions. In many cases, kids pester their mothers to buy treats or toys for them. If they’re not doing that, their constant, “Are we almost done?” or “Can we leave now?” can automatically push a mother to buy unnecessary items to keep them busy.

Similarly, spouses get bored with shopping. This drives them to wander around the tech gadget section. Ultimately, they will end up buying something expensive and unnecessary. Shops are well familiar with these common behaviours and try to exploit them in many ways. For example, you will see that an expensive brand of milk may offer free toys or a chance to win a new Xbox.

Overcoming Grocery Shop Tricks – Be Aware of Clever Placements

The way that a store is designed affects the purchasing decisions that you make. Stores set up a “funnel” along the corridors between two rows of shelving in the aisles. The result is that stores are organised with certain expensive, unnecessary products that obstruct your way as you walk through the aisle. Your eyes will readily be attracted to these items.

The ends of the aisles often show off new arrivals which will probably be more expensive. There you might even be offered samples to try. These spots are reserved by distributors who make extra payments for the launch of new brands or products. You will also find healthier, more essential items around the periphery of the store.

In the middle of the store, you’ll mostly find processed foods with items that are needed rather infrequently. You will often be tempted to touch the shiny green stack of Granny Smith apples. Statistics reveal that touching an item tends to increase the desire to purchase it. This is why stores set up fruits or baked goods in a particularly appealing manner.

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You will frequently find that complementary merchandise articles are often placed side by side on the shelf. This is done to tempt you to purchase most or all of them. For instance, you will see oven mittens or baking trays near boxes of cake mix. The final obstacle that you may face could be a television at checkout.

The television shows a never-ending loop of advertisements of many of the products available at the store, especially those with low prices or discounting. This tactic attempts to entice you to go back and buy even more.

Overcoming Grocery Shop Tricks – Don’t Let Psychological Tricks Fool You

Grocery stores attempt to trick you psychologically to make you buy their products. They put up signs announcing “On Sale” or “25 percent more for free” on products that may not necessarily offer the lowest prices. Sometimes stores raise the prices on certain products one week and put them on sale the next.

The “sale” merely returns the product to its original price. That’s why you should check other stores to find the lowest prices independent of a product being on sale. Sometimes companies put limits on how many pieces you may buy when a product is on sale. They do this to get you to purchase a higher quantity than you normally would. Don’t fall for this trick and purchase only exactly the amount you need.

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Overcoming Grocery Shop Tricks – Don’t Purchase from the Deli Counter

The offerings in the deli section are similar to the ones in the frozen food aisle of the store. However, the deli counter employs additional workers who provide more services. This is why the cost of the products is higher over there compared to those of food in the frozen section. So, avoid the deli section unless you can’t find it in the frozen food area.

Overcoming Grocery Shop Tricks – Watch Out for the Water Tricks!

Food manufacturers use water cleverly in many items. If you are in a position to purchase pure untreated contents that have not been diluted, be sure to do so. This is because buying most ready-made liquid products represents a loss for the consumer.

Most producers use more water than the actual ingredients found in a liquid mixture. For example, you’re best advised to purchase chicken stock cubes and green teabags over liquid chicken stock and bottled green tea. Most fruit drinks and household cleansers are diluted with water. Fruit drinks usually contain 20 percent fruit and 80 percent water.

Another ruse pulled off by stores is their packaging products like meat in water solutions, claiming to better lock in the flavours. This strategy increases the overall weight of the product, meaning that you pay for the weight of the water solution, and therefore much more per pound of the meat itself.

Overcoming Grocery Shop Tricks – Look Carefully at the Product Contents

Not all packs or trays of fruits or vegetables have equally high-quality contents. Stores hide defective foods that are bruised, fatty or discoloured by burying them underneath the good- looking foods that you’re buying. You will find it quite difficult to identify those defective items yet also have difficulty finding a perfect pack without any bad ones.

Try to buy packs that clearly display all the contents so that you don’t unwittingly purchase defective goods. Use your common sense to recognise when you are buying products that are labelled in a misleading way.

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Overcoming Grocery Shop Tricks – Hone Your Math Skills

Be aware that receipts aren’t always accurate. Sometimes receipts may unintentionally show prices that are erroneous, perhaps even higher than they should be for a particular product. A good habit to develop is to estimate the total price for your purchases before you head to the checkout. You should also always ensure that your receipt is accurate before leaving the shop.

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C.E.O @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is passionate about finance, education, women empowerment and children’s issues. Anna has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, The Straits Times, Business Insider, INC and The Peak Singapore. She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen). Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).