50 Supermarket Tricks You Still Fall For

Food experts, industry analysts, and store employees share their insider strategies on how to save money on groceries, stay healthy, and beat the supermarkets at their own game.

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We’re very aware of the role that the senses play in marketing.

We’re very aware of the role that the senses play in marketing.iStock/Thinkstock
When you walk in the door, you smell bread baking or rotisserie chicken roasting in the deli area because we know those smells get your salivary glands working. When you’re salivating, you’re a much less disciplined shopper. —Paco Underhill, consumer expert and author of What Women Want: The Science of Female Shopping

It’s no accident that shopping carts are getting bigger.

It’s no accident that shopping carts are getting bigger.Joshua Scott for Reader's Digest
We doubled their size as a test, and customers bought 19 percent more. —Martin Lindstrom, marketing consultant and author of Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy

The more people buy, the more they consume.

The more people buy, the more they consume.iStock/Thinkstock
If you used to buy a six-pack of soda and drink six cans a week but now buy a 12-pack because that’s the current standard size, you’re probably going to start drinking 12 cans a week. Be mindful when buying larger sizes to make sure your habits don’t change as a result. —Jeff Weidauer, former supermarket executive and vice president of marketing for Vestcom, a retail services company

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The average consumer tends to remember the price of only four items:

The average consumer tends to remember the price of only four items:iStock/Thinkstock
Milk, bread, bananas, and eggs. Ninety-five percent of shoppers have no idea what all the other items cost and don’t know if they’re getting a good deal when they buy them. —Martin Lindstrom

The produce department is at the front of the store because...

The produce department is at the front of the store because...Joshua Scott for Reader's Digest
its bright colors put you in a good mood and inspire you to buy more. That’s why I recommend that you start shopping in the middle of the store, with its bland boxes and cans. —Phil Lempert, grocery industry expert and editor of supermarketguru.com

Over 60 percent of shoppers off-load products as they check out.

Over 60 percent of shoppers off-load products as they check out.Hemera/Thinkstock
So supermarkets started making checkout lanes narrower, with less shelf space, which means it’s harder to ditch goods at the last minute. —Martin Lindstrom

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We let you linger … and it’s good for business.

We let you linger … and it’s good for business.Joshua Scott for Reader's Digest
Customers would tell me as they went through the checkout, “I just stopped in to get eggs,” and they would have $250 worth of stuff. —Jason Swett, former bagger and cashier at a grocery store in Kalamazoo, Michigan

To save money, wear headphones and listen to upbeat music as you shop.

To save money, wear headphones and listen to upbeat music as you shop. iStock/Thinkstock
Many stores play music with a rhythm that’s much slower than the average heartbeat, which makes you spend more time in the store—and buy 29 percent more. —Martin Lindstrom

Supermarkets aren’t out to steal from you.

Supermarkets aren’t out to steal from you. iStock/Thinkstock
The average supermarket makes about 1.5 percent net profit a year. To give you some idea of how low that is, the profit margin for clothing stores can be several times that. —Phil Lempert

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Kroger uses heat sensors...

Kroger uses heat sensors...Creatas/Thinkstock
...to track where people are in the store to determine when there’s likely to be a rush of shoppers to the checkout counters so that they can get cashiers to the front in advance. —Jeff Weidauer

Please have your money or credit card ready at checkout.

Please have your money or credit card ready at checkout.iStock/Thinkstock
Some stores time each transaction. If you take too long, we get in trouble. —Aimee Brittain, former grocery cashier, prettyfrugaldiva.com

In my experience, food safety is the biggest priority...

In my experience, food safety is the biggest priority...William Brinson for Reader's Digest
...especially when it comes to produce. Employees were required to sterilize cutting boards every four hours; they had to fill out a cleaning log each time the boards were washed. Some employees would try to get out of doing the dirty work, so it was my job to pop into the department throughout the day and check the log. —Linda King, former store and department manager for a Connecticut chain

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One thing that shocked me...

One thing that shocked me...iStock/Thinkstock
...is that prepared food in the deli area, like chicken or potatoes, is thrown away at the end of the day. Stores can’t save it. They won’t even give it to their employees. —Aimee Brittain

Grocery stores can’t compete with Walmart on price.

Grocery stores can’t compete with Walmart on price.Kang Kim for Reader's Digest
So what are they doing? Bringing in people who are passionate about food. They’re hiring butchers who are skilled at cutting up meat, produce managers who are experts on fruits and vegetables, and a few dietitians who give seminars on healthy eating habits. —Jeff Weidauer

Most grocery stores have a budget for supporting local causes...

Most grocery stores have a budget for supporting local causes...Fuse/Thinkstock
...and are interested in being a part of the community. So if your school is having a fund-raiser, don’t forget to talk to your nearby store. —Jeff Weidauer

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You can’t win when you’re a bagger.

You can’t win when you’re a bagger.iStock/Thinkstock
If you put a loaf of bread in a bag by itself, some people get mad because they want it with their other groceries. But other customers get mad if you don’t put the bread in a 
separate bag. —Jason Swett

People believe milk is located in the back of the store...

People believe milk is located in the back of the store...iStock/Thinkstock
...so that they have to walk through the aisles to get to it. But the real reason is simple logistics. Milk needs to be refrigerated right away; the trucks unload in the back, so the fridges are there so that we can fill the cases as quickly and easily as possible. —Jeff Weidauer

About 80 percent of what shoppers buy, they buy every week.

About 80 percent of what shoppers buy, they buy every week.Joshua Scott for Reader's Digest
Keep your receipt, which shows the item and the price you last paid, so you can tell when something is on sale. That’s when you should stock up. —Phil Lempert

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If you need a cake, don’t buy it the day you need it.

If you need a cake, don’t buy it the day you need it. Joshua Scott for Reader's Digest
We’ll have to give you one from the display case, and those cakes have often been sitting out for a while. If you order in advance, we’ll make the cake for you that day or the night before, and it will be a lot fresher. —Lindsay Smith, former cake decorator and bakery worker at a grocery store near Birmingham, Alabama

Believe it or not...

Believe it or not...Lucas Zarebinski for Reader's Digest
...my years of research have found that the average apple you see in the supermarket is 14 months old…or older. —Martin Lindstrom

Some of the same cheeses displayed behind the deli counter...

Some of the same cheeses displayed behind the deli counter...Lucas Zarebinski for Reader's Digest
...are available in the dairy case. The packaging isn’t as fancy, but they’re much cheaper. —Phil Lempert

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The mist that’s sprayed on your fruits and veggies...

The mist that’s sprayed on your fruits and veggies...Joshua Scott for Reader's Digest
...may make them look fresh, but it can make them rot faster. The water also adds to an item’s weight, so make sure you shake off leafy greens. —Martin Lindstrom

We recycle the vegetables and fruits that don’t sell in time...

We recycle the vegetables and fruits that don’t sell in time...Joshua Scott for Reader's Digest
...by using them in our prepared foods. —Bradley McHugh

In a supermarket, a good sale is anything that’s half price.

In a supermarket, a good sale is anything that’s half price.Lucas Zarebinski for Reader's Digest
“Buy one, get the second one 50 percent off” discounts are not good sales—that’s only 25 percent off each. Almost everything is reduced to 50 percent at some point. —Teri Gault

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The store I worked at would make some of its sales very specific...

The store I worked at would make some of its sales very specific...iStock/Thinkstock
...and, in my opinion, very deceptive. For example, it would offer 50 percent off a ten-ounce package of deli ham and put the sign right between the ten-ounce packages and the 16-ounce ones. Shoppers would wind up grabbing the wrong one and paying full price. —Jason Swett

Customers think that when they buy in bulk, they end up with a better deal.

Customers think that when they buy in bulk, they end up with a better deal.Joshua Scott for Reader's Digest
But that’s not always the case. In the produce department, individual peppers are almost always cheaper than those in the multi-packs, and loose avocados are usually cheaper than the ones grouped in mesh bags. —Teri Gault

The ten-for-$10 promotion is one of the most effective.

The ten-for-$10 promotion is one of the most effective.iStock/Thinkstock
When a store does it, volume takes off, even if the promotion raises the price of something. We’ll take an 89-cent can of tuna and mark it “ten for $10,” 
and instead of buying six cans for 89 cents, people will buy ten for $10. —Jeff Weidauer

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Do not assume...

Do not assume...Joshua Scott for Reader's Digest
...that if something is displayed at the end of an aisle, it is a good deal. Often, it’s not. Those endcaps are sold specifically to companies trying to promote a product. —Paco Underhill

Just because something is advertised in your grocery store circular...

Just because something is advertised in your grocery store circular...Joshua Scott for Reader's Digest
...doesn’t mean it’s on sale. There’s a whole lot in there that’s full price. —Teri Gault

Grocery stores usually don’t have the best milk prices.

Grocery stores usually don’t have the best milk prices.iStock/Thinkstock
The milk at drugstores and convenience stores is typically priced 30 to 50 cents less per gallon; it may even be locally produced and hormone-free. —Teri Gault

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Do you like the hot pizza from the deli?

Do you like the hot pizza from the deli?Kang Kim for Reader's Digest
It’s likely the same store-brand pizza offered over in the freezer section for almost half the price per slice. —Bradley McHugh, meat manager and deli clerk for an independent grocery store in Ohio

At the fresh seafood counter...

At the fresh seafood counter...Kang Kim for Reader's Digest
...most products are labeled previously frozen in small type. Those same products are probably for sale in the frozen-food case for 40 percent less. Not only that, but you won’t have to use them right away, since they haven’t been thawed out. —Phil Lempert

I’ve tasted every item in our deli case...

I’ve tasted every item in our deli case...iStock/Thinkstock
...and there’s very little difference between what’s been prepackaged and what we slice fresh. A lot of times, it’s the exact same product. But you’re paying $1 to $2 more per pound for the same product just to have us slice it for you. —Bradley McHugh

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When you buy fresh bread...

When you buy fresh bread...iStock/Thinkstock
...we give it to you in a brown paper bag. Why? Because the bread may go stale faster, sending you back to the store to buy more. A quick fix: Place loaves in airtight plastic bags as soon as you get home. —Lindsay Smith

Our French bread was exactly the same as our Italian bread...

Our French bread was exactly the same as our Italian bread...William Brinson for Reader's Digest
...which was the same as our White Mountain bread. They were all made with the same dough and then shaped differently. —Lindsay Smith

If we’re having a sale on a baked item...

If we’re having a sale on a baked item...Kang Kim for Reader's Digest
...and you don’t need it until the next month, ask if you can buy it now, during the sale, but not pick it up until your event. We let people do that all the time. They bring back their receipt a month later and get their order. —A cake decorator in an Ohio grocery store

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If you see something in the bakery...

If you see something in the bakery...William Brinson for Reader's Digest
...or meat department that will expire the next day, say, “Hey, this is expiring tomorrow. Are you going to mark it down?” A lot of times, they’ll mark it down for you right then. You’re really doing them a favor, since they have to unload it anyway. —Teri Gault

There’s a lot that grocery store employees will do for you if you just ask.

There’s a lot that grocery store employees will do for you if you just ask.iStock/Thinkstock
The butcher will tenderize meat for you, the baker will slice a loaf of bread, and the florist will usually give you free greenery to go with your loose flowers. At some stores owned by Kroger, the seafood department worker will even coat your fish in flour or Cajun seasoning and fry it up for free. I couldn’t believe it the first time they did that for me. —Teri Gault, grocery savings expert and CEO of thegrocerygame.com

Is there a product you want that the store doesn’t carry?

Is there a product you want that the store doesn’t carry?Kang Kim for Reader's Digest
Talk to the manager. A lot of today’s supermarkets will special-order things for you. They’ll even arrange to bring something in for you on a regular basis. —Jeff Weidauer

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If you can, shop when the store is not busy.

If you can, shop when the store is not busy.iStock/Thinkstock
Studies show that most consumers buy more when the store is crowded because they 
subconsciously want to be part of the group. Mondays and Tuesdays are the best days to shop. Whatever you do, avoid weekends. —Phil Lempert

It’s almost always cheaper to buy a large cut and have us trim it for you.

It’s almost always cheaper to buy a large cut and have us trim it for you.iStock/Thinkstock
We can cut a chuck roast into stew cubes, a whole boneless strip loin into New York strip steaks, or a flank steak into stir-fry strips. We’ve had people buy one big roast and have us remove the bone for soup, run half of it through the grinder for hamburger, and cut the rest into a pot roast. That can save you about 30 percent compared with buying everything cut. —Bradley McHugh

Just because a cut of meat is labeled Angus doesn’t mean it’s going to be a great steak.

Just because a cut of meat is labeled Angus doesn’t mean it’s going to be a great steak.Joshua Scott for Reader's Digest
What you really want to check is its USDA quality grade. Prime is the best, then choice (usually the highest grade available in grocery stores), followed by select, and finally standard. —Kari Underly, former grocery store meat cutter and author of The Art of Beef Cutting: A Meat Professional’s Guide to Butchering and Merchandising

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Find out when your butcher marks down meat.

Find out when your butcher marks down meat.Joshua Scott for Reader's Digest
At most stores, it’s between eight and ten in the morning. —Teri Gault

One of our best-kept secrets...

One of our best-kept secrets...iStock/Thinkstock
...is that you get filet mignon much cheaper by buying whole T-bone steaks. Every T-bone has a small filet mignon on the bone, and a New York strip on the opposite side. The price difference can be $3 to $5 a pound. —Bradley McHugh

If you’re worried about what’s in your ground meat...

If you’re worried about what’s in your ground meat...iStock/Thinkstock
...buy a piece of roast when it’s on sale and have your butcher grind it up for you in-store. A sirloin roast would be so delicious as hamburger. —Kari Underly

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When I was training as a health inspector...

When I was training as a health inspector...iStock/Thinkstock
...the instructors beat into our heads how to inspect restaurants. But there was very little training focused on grocery stores. They took us through a grocery store in one day and then turned us loose, even though the stores have all this processing equipment that’s tough to clean. And I have to admit, I’d look at some of these machines on my inspections and say, “Yep, looks good.” But I didn’t really know what I was looking for. —Grocery store public health consultant

When you buy prepackaged ground meat in one of those tubes or foam containers...

When you buy prepackaged ground meat in one of those tubes or foam containers...Craig Cutler for Reader's Digest
...it may have come from hundreds of cows. If just one of those cows had E. coli on its hide, it’s now in your hamburger. If you ask a grocery store meat cutter to grind your hamburger in the store, it’s coming from just one cow. There’s still a risk of contamination, but it’s a much lower one. —Bill Marler, food-safety advocate and Seattle attorney who has frequently sued food companies

Everyone handles the produce.

Everyone handles the produce.Joshua Scott for Reader's Digest
I’ve seen customers drop something, pick it up, and put it back on the shelf. I’ve seen kids take a bite and put the item back. It took me a long time to start eating fresh fruits and vegetables again after working in a store. —Aimee Brittain

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In almost every store we walk into...

In almost every store we walk into...iStock/Thinkstock
...the employees tell us they don’t have enough time to clean properly. The result: I’ve seen some mice infestations so bad that they were living in the dairy cooler. —Grocery store public health consultant

The carts never get cleaned.

The carts never get cleaned.iStock/Thinkstock
I’ve seen babies soiling carts and carts with chicken juice leaking on them. That’s why I give them a once-over with my own sanitizing wipes. —Aimee Brittain

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140 thoughts on “50 Supermarket Tricks You Still Fall For

  1. Number 10 is bull! Every time I get to the checkout, more than half of the registers are closed!

  2. Point 5: Start shopping in the produce department then head to the meats. Avoid the middle: processed food.

  3. Tip #5 is totally wrong. Fresh produce and perishable items are towards the outside, and packaged good (which are much less healthy) are in the middle. To eat healthy, do most purchasing on the outer lanes where the fresh veggies, fruit etc are.

  4. I hate the people who change their minds before or at the checkout counter and dump refrigerated and frozen foods where ever they are in the store instead of putting them back where they got them.

  5. #9
    That’s the profit that the corp. earns after selling billions of dollars in food. The profit after paying all expenses and salaries etc. that is then distributed to the shareholders or put back into the co. It’s not the mark-up on food items.

  6. #14 re. Walmart repeats a standard (Walmart-fed) myth, that grocery stores can’t compete with them. That’s flagrantly false. Here in central Virginia, the folks shopping Walmart for groceries tends to be the bottom of the barrel types who couldn’t be bothered to compare prices, who don’t realize how much they’d regularly save (in every category) across the street at Kroger.

  7. As to number 21, I also disagree. The specialty cheeses from the deli counter are usually much cheaper than the mass-produced mega-corporation labelled stuff in the regular dairy case brie to brie, blue cheese to blue cheese.

    And as to number 33, the deli counter usually has cheaper deli meats ounce per ounce than the prepackaged. I can usually get pepperoni for 6 bucks a pound at the counter, but in a package it will cost me 5 dollars for 8 counces (i.e. 10 bucks a pound). I hate waiting to get things sliced at the deli counter, the only reason I do is because it is nearly always much cheaper.

    This list is someone says this, or someone says that. Sort of useless.

  8. As to number 5, I disagree. You should hardly ever visit the middle of the store for anything. Maybe once a month, you need rice or something, but otherwise stick to walls — meat, dairy and most importantly produce. The middle of the store stuff is low-nutrition, highly priced per nutritional value, and very manufactured. The best health thing I recommend for people is to stop couponing. If they are giving you coupons for something, it because they are trying to sell you overpriced manufactured high profit margin junk that will end up making you fat, unhappy, and unhealthy.

    I usually go through a store backwards. I scan the meat for some good deals and to focus my meal planning. Then I get the dairy on the way to the produce, and then I get the produce I need for the meals I plan and for my snacks.

  9. most of these can be avoided by shopping for groceries online. the few bucks we spend on delivery is well worth the money we save by not being roped in by any in-store tricks or impulse buys (not to mention the running calculator that keeps you on budget).

    1. Shoot, I haven’t grocery budgeted in years – I forgot all about having to do that when I was younger! Good point too, if you are on a budget, online shopping if available would be great to make calm and informed decisions!

  10. Re: 14 There are very few items that Walmart is competitive on in the grocery dept, unless you have ads from the other stores, then they will match prices. They higher than almost any other store I shop at.

    1. Agreed. Wal-mart typically has the highest priced meats than any other traditional grocer around, other than family pack chicken breasts and low grade hamburger meat, where they are ‘competitive. They also have slightly higher priced eggs where I live, and worst of all, their produce is usually quite expensive in relation to other stores and in poor quality, and many times they are even out of several items. I don’t know about junk food, but for the food that matters to me, Wal-mart is expensive!

  11. So stores aren’t out to rip us off, but purposefully put signs in deceptive places hoping we’ll buy the wrong product and sell us 14 month old apples?

  12. That’s not true about Wal-Mart being cheaper. Their prices on many food items are much higher than Krogers, Albertsons, etc. If you insist on shopping at Wal-Mart, be sure to check the other stores’ ads for prices before you shop. Make a list of what you want with the prices at the pother stores and buy those items at Wal-Mart. Then when you reach the check out counter tell the clerk that you want a price match on the items that are cheaper elsewhere. They are told at the beginning of each shift what other stores are charging, but they will lose their jobs if they tell the shoppers, so it’s up to you to do the price matching. My wife saves up to $50 a week through price matching at Wal-Mart and she has never been questioned. And it saves on gas because she doesn’t have to drive all over town to buy at all the other grocery stores.

  13. #40, WRONG WRONG WRONG!! Nope, I went into the store to grab a few
    things really quick on Sunday and I could not get out of there fast
    enough, I absolutely cannot stand when food stores are crowded. Everyone
    stands around with their heads up their @$$es in the way. I quickly
    ditched my cart and carried 24 pounds worth of water and grains, just so
    I could weave in and out of everyone standing around blocking every
    freaking aisle or moving slower than molasses. And I definitly didn’t
    feel compelled to spend more because “everyone else was doing it”

  14. They missed an obvious one – the freshest products are almost always in the back of the section,since stores rotate the older items to the front so that people will buy them before they go bad or expire. When buying items with a limited shelf life, always pull item from behind, instead of taking the ones in front.

  15. I was at a Franz bakery store today and they had their twin packs of snack cakes for 79 cents and boxes of six cakes for $2.59. Three times 79 is $2.37 so I bought three two packs and saved 22 cents.

    That’s as bad as bread for 10 cents a loaf, two for a quarter.

  16. One thing I don’t fall for is articles that run 51 pages for you to place more and more ads. Page one I’m gone when you use this black hat SEO technique.

  17. They recommend starting your shopping in the center of the store? No, stay out of the center, shop the perimeter, much healthier. Nothing wrong with seeing healthy produce when you walk in the door!

  18. Seriously, reading through this list is enough to make one to be shopping with extra wariness esp. concerning the prepared food safety and hygiene.

  19. #45: This is what we’ve done my whole marriage, as my Dad-inlaw was a butcher and told us to. We also hunt deer & turkey and my husband learned from his Dad to butcher sanitarily, so we understand the cuts of meat/venison/poultry, now that we’ve been raising Heritage, Rare Turkey breeds for 20 yrs. Of the hundreds of birds we’ve raised to be others pets or tablefare, we’ve probably only butchered 10 for our own meals, but that is the purpose of livestock, to be peoples food. I know as a shopper that I have the right to pick a beef roast or whole pork loin out for a price I can stand, after I’ve saved up for it, and as long as a meat employee is still available (don’t go late at night) I ask them to hamburg it pure for me, or whatever portion of it, they bag & mark it so I don’t have to get out & sterilize our huge ancient meat grinder for just a few pounds of meat. I always am surprised how many folks I know wouldn’t feel entitled to have the store alter a packaged meat, just have to buy it as is. I also will have the store remove any loose liquid in a package of chicken or beef, and reprice it for me. I trim off damaged cabbage leaves, select the bananas I want off of a bunch, buy single veg/fruit items so I’m not stuck with ones that are damaged/unripe, etc in a prepackgd bag. If these were shoes, would you let them force you to pay for 5 pairs of shoes they picked out just so you could buy the pair you wanted?

  20. #37: and when we see a discounted or full price item that is obviously gone bad, or has mold, a bag tear losing contents, we bring it to an employee to discard or offer to us if we want it at all.

  21. #34: My Grandfather used brown bags on his home made or bakery bought breads to wrap them in, seal tight and heat in the oven for 12-20 minutes depending on how wide/tall the loaf or boule was. That bread was always just as moist, flavorful niside and toasty crisped on the outside as a freshly baked bread, still my favorite meal enhancer….bag-warmed bread with cold butter slices are better than the finest cake and icing.

  22. #21: We demand the right on a “50% off the second item” sale to buy only one and get the discount, if we want that item.

  23. #12: Someone should have editted this writer, how is a dept manager’s spotcheck of an employee cut-board sterilizing log a trick on shoppers?

  24. #9: I guess it’s just honest mistakes when the store register charges me more than what the item’s shelf sticker said it was worth, or how there’s so much mischarging that the gov’t has had to annually spotcheck the worst mispricing offenders “Walmart” for one, to cite and fine them for mispriced items and cash register errors. What good are sales if the register charges you more? Try to watch the register LED readout while unloading your cart! One good reason to shop with your spouse, maybe the only reason.

  25. Point # 6: When I have to ditch items I can’t afford or find in the cart that I thought I’d put back in favor of another item instead, I hand them to the cashier and say, “I dont need these, thank you”. Not hard at all.

  26. “The milk at drugstores and convenience stores is typically priced 30 to 50 cents less per gallon”

    Yikes! What the heck is wrong with my area? Convenience stores usually have the same brands for $1 more (and up). I haven’t bought milk from the convenience stores in CT since I started looking at the prices there (and remembering what I had *just* paid at notoriously expensive supermarket Stop and Shop).

    “If you see something in the bakery or meat department that will expire the next day, say, “Hey, this is expiring tomorrow. Are you going to mark it down?” A lot of times, they’ll mark it down for you right then.”

    Stop and Shop and Price Choppers have both refused to do this for me on multiple occasions. Once, I was even looking at some horribly bruised fruit about to expire (that I was going to give to a pet who doesn’t care about aesthetics) and asked if I could get a discount because of the bruising and I was told no. He then proceeded to throw them out.

  27. Do not be average… I can easily spot prices for 90% of regular items I buy that I know can be better and wait till then. It is all about planning, following trends and beating the grocers at their own game!!

  28. I save money by making a list. I research online what stores has things I want on sale.Example Fiesta has avocados 2 @ $1.00. Food-town has the best deal on all beef sausages , frozen french fries and bacon. Kroger is like 7-11 really expensive on most stuff.

  29. 51 slides! That means 51 slow page loads with al the stuff you have put on every page.
    Why can’t you write an article with pictures that takes only two or three page loads?
    I refuse to read something as annoying as this!

  30. Actually prices at Grocery Stores tend to be cheaper then Wal Mart. Wal-Mart buys their groceries from the local grocery wholesaler.

  31. Why isn’t this article more accurately titled, “Random quotes from people who once worked in a supermarket?” There’s most certainly not 50 “tricks” here, much less anything people “still fall for.” Aggregate article fail. I did still get a physical Reader’s Digest via paper, but in protest of the quality level that RD has sunk to, will not be renewing my subscription.

  32. Going to the store and buying food you GOT to watch the prices?? I’ve found a lot of generic products are more expencive then name brand!! Going to the check out is as bad as going to a fast food place. People stand in line and talk about what there going to order, but when they get up there and ask can i help you they dont know what they want, like they forgot, then when told how much they say o ya and then dig for money to pay for it like they thought it was free . Whats really puzzling is when your leaving in your car or getting to the store to park, it seems like everybody walks in the middle the isles or the road, or in the middle of the isle talking to someone they no and dont move unless asked.

  33. 51 tricks? There were maybe 10 followed by a bunch of opinions. Who says supermarkets can’t compete with WalMart on price? Go to Wegmans, then WalMart. WalMart is $0.01 cheaper on a dozen items and $1.00 more expensive on one. So if you are smart, you don’t got to WalMart.
    Prepared foods are thrown out? Again Wegmans donates much of that to soup kitchens.
    Cashiers don’t get yelled at if shoppers are slow. It evens out in the long run. If it takes you longer than average to check out 30 shoppers, it is likely your fault.
    In the 25 years I’ve been shopping I have seen maybe 10 shoppers put things back at the register not 60%. Where’s the proof in that statistic.
    Wegmans – Milk is in the front AND the back of the store (front if that is the only thing you are getting) and produce is in the back of the store. Where are you coming up with these “facts”?

  34. This should just be 50 supermarket facts. Like 10 of them were actual tricks…

  35. #24, Half price… It wasn’t all that long ago that if ANYTHING was half price, the first question that somebody asked was “What’s Wrong With IT?” because nobody marks anything down that far unless it’s about to go out of date.
    NOW, people won’t buy anything UNLESS it’s Buy One Get One free.

  36. Milk in the back of the store… Then why is the Ice cream 2 asiles from the front?

    1. It doesn’t drop to dangerous temperatures NEAR as quick as other dairy products (milk, cream, yogurt, etc).

  37. Complete bullshit if you know how to shop and trust me I know how to shop

  38. Here’s something I’m not falling for: 50 clicks to read one article. I’ve got better things to do.

  39. Just like websites use 10 pages to say what could go on one to increase page views, huh, and get more ad money. Funny.

    1. I agree, “I am going to tell you the healthiest food to buy to drop that weight”, then an hour later, after much repetition, they say buy their book. Actually they even sound like con artist. “Now isn’t your family’s health worth $600.00 but this is not going to cost you $300.00, not even $200.00 but only $199.99. Reminds me of old movies with a carnival and the con saying, “I’ll tell ya what I’m a gonna do” like you are getting something special

  40. #8 – not so much. i work at a store in the area and hook my ipod up to the store stereo and play awesome music. as a result, people say all the time how they spend more time in the store cause they’re singing along and just walking along browsing.

  41. Regarding #14… Winco grocery stores beat walmart on food prices.

  42. I start with produce then buy the cleaning supplies i need. If I need something else that is next. It keeps my bill down and I eat healthy.

  43. re: #44. don’t buy t-bone (porterhouse) in the lower grades. even choice is going to have a lot of waste on it. i always buy prime porterhouse. after the waste is trimmed away from choice the actual price is not that different and after tasting a prime porterhouse you’ll never eat a choice grade again.

  44. re: #42. i always buy prime. the difference in price is worth it insomuch as with the lower grades you will probably have to trim at least 1/4 to 1/3 of inedible fat away. even though prime cuts have a lot of marbeling there is less inedible fat that has to be trimmed and discarded. most grocery stores don’t carry prime because people perceive the cost as being outrageous. if you look closely at how much waste is on the lower cuts and take a little time to do the math you would be more shocked at how much money you are actually throwing in the garbage with the lower cuts.

    1. It’s almost impossible for the average consumer to buy prime because it’s basically not sold to the general population. Prime is what you get in the best steak restaurants. Next best is choice. Even choice isn’t carried by all supermarkets and the supermarkets that do have it don’t usually have a big selection. But what #42 was speaking of is those who are fooled by meats branded “angus.” I know many people who have thought that meats branded “angus” meant that it was superior in quality and as #42 states, it’s not necessarily the case.

      1. I had always though Angus was the name of a cow breed. But I once saw LAURA MEATS said her cattle were free roaming and not cooped up in crates where they can not move. This must make these animals narcotic and we eat that meat plus the anti bodies injected in the cattle. Not being able to get much meat growing up I am more partial to vegetables. Nothing taste as good as a pea or string bean or even blackberries and when you pick them from the vine and stick them in your mouth

  45. re: #27. always bring a calculator and do the math when something seems to good. it only takes a minute or so and being a little skeptical can save money.

    1. My boyfriend and I were looking at something from the non-food aisle (so non-perishable, obviously).
      There was 1lb for $5
      There was 2lb for $6

      He yelled at me for grabbing the “more expensive” one. I then taught him how to use the “price per pound” or “price per unit/lot/gross” section of the pricing sticker.

  46. re: #20. if mr lindstrom were to really want you to believe his ‘research’ he would eat one of those 14 month old apples and have someone take him to the emergency room.

    1. Many an apple pie has been made and consumed from apples that have had a rotten piece cut from it. A lot goes on behind the doors of a kitchen. Growing up on a farm you didn’t dare throw away a piece of fruit or vegetable with a part of it rotting…….CUT THAT OUT, and use the rest. We’ve removed mold from bread and ate it.

      1. sugar, you may be an older person also. Living through the great depression and ww 2 one threw nothing away. Not even string or butcher paper. My mother removed the mold from the top of jelly, from bread and cut out the bad part of food. We had no illnesses and no one else I knew did either…from doing this. My mother acquired heart trouble as a child due to improper treatment of strep throat but I did not see sickly people

        1. Also, I do not think I know one person that is not sickly. I am lucky, at 80 sometimes my blood pressure is up

        2. I still cut away the rot or mold. My hubby will throw food away if it’s a week old….tsk, tsk, tsk. Could explain why I’m so much more healthier than him. I caught him one day throwing away potatoes that had grown eyes!!! OH NO!!!! I explained that they weren’t poisonous, cut the eye off, and cook. I can’t imagine how much food, in this world, has been thrown away that was perfectly edible b/c someone didn’t know any better.

          1. I always tell my other half not to worry about the past-date food until it starts forming a democracy.

        3. I’m a “Millennial” (stupid arbitrary cut-off dates!) and I was raised this way as well (and in the city, to boot!).

  47. don’t listen to #5. the middle of the store is where all the fattening, processed and generally unhealthful foods are. stick to the perimeter. that’s where all the good, healthy stuff is.

    1. Again! They are not suggesting that you don’t shop the perimeter. They are suggesting that you get what you need from the middle aisles first and the reason was quite clearly written. Almost everyone does have items from those aisles on their lists – spices? olive oil? paper goods? pet items? coffee? shampoo? Get it now?

  48. Re. #42. Yeah! Angus is a branding sort of thing and has nothing at all to do with grade, other than what the Angus people want you to believe.

    1. I find that hard to believe. If you taste an Angus hotdog compared to the regular high brand dogs (Oscar Meyer) there is a big difference. An Angus hot dog almost tastes like steak. Have not tried the Angus steaks or hamburger because I just won’t pay that extra price.

  49. Re #40: I shop in the 07:00 hour on Sunday Morning. The ad breaks at 06:00 on Sunday morning and the store has very few shoppers. I like that time because meat from the last week’s ad is still at the sale price along with the sale meat for the current ad. Some is even further marked down when it is close dated. That gives me a much larger meat choice at sale and marked down prices. Also, I can find new sale items that have not yet sold down.

  50. What grocery stores did these people come from on some of these? The packaged peppers and avocadoes (#26) are ALWAYS cheaper at my grocery store…sometimes by half! $4.99 for 3 packaged red/yellow/orange peppers, $3.49 EACH for the loose ones at times…avocados are $1.79 for 2-3 in the bag and $1.50-2.50 EACH loose (depends on season).

  51. These tips sure get gross by the end. I’m definitely going to start paying better attention.

    1. what’s so gross about them? most of them should be obvious. like the last one about the cart……but then how often have you thought about that doorknob in the bathroom that 2,000 people who didn’t wash their hands have touched. makes ya wonder why there’s not a sink outside the bathroom…………or money! money is the grossest thing known to man. i always use my debit card when i can and when i do handle money i make sure to wash before eating anything

      1. Very funny but it is all true. You use the toilet in a store, wash your hands and then put them on the exit door or its’ knob. I do not. I push the door open with my shoulder. I bet a lot of people never think to clean their bathroom doorknob when they clean their bathroom. I was raised to wash my hands before eating no matter what. I think most of this stuff on here is nonsensical but it at least gives people the chance to talk to strangers

  52. People believe milk is located in the back of the store…

    50 Tricks you fall for: 17

    People believe milk is located in the back of the store…

    MAN DANG IT I “FELL FOR” their ‘trick’ by correctly thinking that milk was in the back of the store. There’s another one of the 50 Tricks I fall for. Oh wait, that’s not a trick at all, just some useless garbage they throw in to get to their nice round number ’50’. Excellent journalism!

    1. But the milk IS at the back of the store! I believe it and it is so.

      1. Milk is always at the back so you walk through the store. I used to work in a GU and that was the reason why. Otherwise, if the article is correct, the ice cream would be at the loading bay.

    2. Milk, eggs, meat and yogurt need to be “lightly” cooled but not frozen. Therefor, that is placed at the back of most stores to allow efficient cooling of the store. If you had that at the front – the heat would go right out the front door.

      Frozen foods are in the center (in closed cases) for the same reason.

      That which is not cooled or frozen is either to the left or to the right of the central door and checkout stands.

      1. I’ve never seen them in the center. They are usually along the wall perpendicular to the milk/dairy/meat/etc so they can cut costs when running electrical, ventilation, etc.

    3. Funny how they say that milk is at the back of the store because it needs to be put away quickly, LOL. I know of several stores that will remain nameless (one starts with a W) where the milk is likely to sit out on the dock at least half a workday, or until they “get around to it” so the distance in putting it into the refrigerator means nothing.

      This where the milk is located thing is a 2-for. One for forcing the customer to walk all the way through the store, and a bonus for it being close to the dock. But believe me, if they could get the customer to walk through all the other aisles and yet not have the refrigerators at the back they would do so if it saved the store money on either design or their cooling bill because they don’t care so much about how far away the dock is, that’s what they have forklifts and strong employees for!

  53. Start shopping in the middle aisles with all the bland boxes & cans so you don’t buy too much produce? Great advice. Save a few dollars on groceries by filling your body with crap so you can spend a fortune on hospital bills later in life. What idiots are writing these articels?

    1. It’s not about produce. It’s a statistical marketing directive to place produce and fruits near the front, because the color range and vibrancy increases mood – and appetite. This natural proclivity, therefore, causes people to engage in shopping more, and thus, buying more, than they normally would. It’s not the person who wrote the article. It’s multiple corporate marketing agencies who’ve both researched and field tested most of these things listed. Half of that is all but explained in the article. How are you that dumb, you missed it? Spend less time eating, and fill your mind instead. Jeebus.

      1. You’ve filled your mind with nonsense. All of the marketing directives and field tests are geared towards making money not healthy eating and therefore are not relevant or to be trusted. My advice is to go straight to the produce department and stay there. Your mood will be lifted and you will buy more produce…which is good for you! Win win.

        1. And do what I do after visiting the produce section – wash your hands or at least use a hand sanitizer product afterwards. Everyone handles the produce. Moms, dads, kids, people with the flu, people with coughs, people with runny noses… Then wash the produce when you get it home so you don’t spread it around. (Odds are small, but still there).

        2. It’s a rare week when I don’t spend $50 in the Produce Section, and that’s about equal to what gets spent in the rest of the store combined…

          And, that doesn’t count money spent on frozen vegetables…

      2. Produce is on the sides of stores because they’re refrigerated and misted. Exterior walls are easier to plumb and wire. Refrigeration also generates a lot of heat, which is more easily dissipated from the sides. Milk and dairy generate the most heat, another reason you find them sold in the back. Surprisingly to me, frozen food cases generate much less heat

    2. I was taught to shop the perimeter of the store for the most nutritious food.

      1. that’s where they keep the beer and soda and snacks at my store.. so that logic doesn’t really work. and to Anna B. there’s nothing wrong with noodles and pasta or the occasional chocolate etc etc. not everyone can afford the healthiest diet, but the fact remains that our healthiest generation is still people who were born about the 50s when food was just beginning to be produced poorly so they had a mix of processed and unprocessed foods to choose from

        1. beer (etc) is usually in the center next to colas and next aisle is cookies and or chips, Then comes toys, books. soap, Clorox, toilet paper and finally cosmetics and drugs.

          I always find the center aisle and turn left and then go for the junk only if I need those particular items. That way I get in and get what I want and need first and then get the miscellaneous crap last.

        2. Randall, I am not sure when food was beginning to be processed but even the cereal and can foods, I believe were once more healthy. I, along with others, wonder if our food is not being bombarded with everything bad for us to maintain shelf life AT THE GROCERY STORE and to cause fat for the diet pills or sill for the get well pills for the BIG COMPANIES that do not care about our health. I read that cereal is almost all sugar. We were not lucky during the Great Depression, or WW2, but we were lucky there were such things as “farmer’s market” where we bought fresh food that had not been processed, and a meat store where they cut the meat to your specifications and was really fresh. The chicken store actually killed and plucked your chicken while you waited

          1. Think you’re right on with this one, Marlene. That’s why nothing tastes like it used to. It’s either cardboard or tin flavor.

    3. They are not idiots. They are well educated on how to control people. Mind control is out there every day of your awake time.

  54. I’m pretty sure Apples can’t last 14 months unless they are frozen (as in a pie, etc.) – I can find references to “fresh cooking apples” lasting several months but not over a year!

      1. I read somewhere apples are kept in special temperature warehouses filled with some kind of gas that keeps them fresh. Or at least unspoiled, or unwrinkled. I’ve had apples in the refrigerator that have stayed good for months, but they did get wrinkled.

        1. exactly. i went to an orchard last summer and the apples were good for 6 months(we picked waaaay too many) now if you count the gestation period of the apples from the bud you’ve got at least a year old apple and then you add the special conditions of the cold storage facilities i could immagine them being 14-18 months old before purchased

          1. Isn’t the the gestation period of the apple several years at least.
            The seed has to germanate, the tree takes years to grow into a flowering plant and then one more year to make apples.

    1. These days, Apples are almost always over a year old when they arrive at the market… Keeping them nicely cold delays the aging process, predictably…
      Not happy with that? Drive out to the hinterlands, and buy them at the orchard… It’s not as far as you think – there’s over 100 of them within 50 miles of Billy Penn’s hat…

  55. What a croc – just walk in with a shopping list, buy the list, and leave. None of this stuff then matters.

    1. I agree, we use a list, with about the same thing on it every week, and only look for coupons for items on our list, and the only time this changes is for Holidays. And those stands with store samplers can slow you down, but never really liked any of it, so I move along.

      1. Coupons remain the greatest waste of time in America. Consider; You have to scan your mail and newspapers for them, cut them out and organize them. Find the EXACT product, (brand, type, and package size), in your store. Compare that price to the other size , (which is the one on sale), and then discover at the checkout that the coupon has expired. All that in an effort to save 28c, (or 48c on a three-pack.)

    2. These tactics are geared towards females because they are the ones that are usually grocery shopping.

      1. Believe it or not “Food Shopping” ought to be done by the menfolk… It IS, of course, a “Hunter/Gatherer” experience..
        As it happens, being the man of the house hereabouts I’ve been doing it for years now, have it down to a science, and can prove my family eats better, is healthier and can take a two-week vacation in Myrtle Beach on the money saved at the supermarket…
        It ain’t that hard…
        Believe it or not…

        1. I had to laugh. Years ago my husband would send me to the grocery store with $50. I had to bake the goodies. He got tired of the meals I was serving, so he decided to go shopping with me. He spent over $200! Yes! Let the men do the shopping. We will get lots of extras!!

          1. You cracked me up, too!!! … LOL…

            Give him time, he will figure out…

            It took awhile to understand the “Store Bonus Card System”, how to find coupons for darned near everything, and scan the weekly circulars for deals to get to where you ‘save’ over 50% on the purchase total… Nowadays it is not so much a shopping trip as it is a safari… I always bring home ‘the bacon’, and I fry it up in the pan!…

            Wouldn’t have it any other way now… :>))

      1. Guess you are right about that – being able to read and write would be required…

  56. Regarding point #11. . .don’t you love it while waiting in the checkout lane a little old lady ahead of you waits until the cashier has finished ringing up the order then slowly pulls out the checkbook and takes another 3 minutes to write out a check?

    1. Then realizes her mistake and tears it up and begins again. Then has a long conversation with the check-out lady while she returns her check book to her purse and reorganizes it before digging for her drivers license for identification and reorganizing her purse again?
      Well, while I may not love it (o.k. I don’t love it) I try to remain patient because some day I will be the one holding up the line while I wonder why everyone is rushing about so.

      1. it’s not funny how humans look at others like they chose their bodies, faces, diseases, hair or lack of it, skin color, or decided to be old for the whole of their life….just so YOU can be annoyed, sickened, aggrivated, hateful, jealous or critical. And, the alternative to being old, please remember, idiots, is being DEAD…..you know, that nice young corpse punch line. Since it has been noted that many of our most illustrious, productive, creative, enjoyable people never got a bit of notice or accomplishment of stature until they passed age 45, some not until after 60. Einstein was regarded as somewhat retarded by those professional educators in school. The 1950’s oddballs, sneered at by the preppies, became the Woodstock Nation in the ’60’s or invented the New World of today’s electronix that make us pay now. So, sneer on, that fictitious caricature of a Survivor-woman you mischaracterize has beat out most of her peers to live to use that Social Security tax they took from her for a little while, but that we paid into for a long time, whether or not we will get to use it. And she probably knows to not buy Spam and CoCoPuffies or to drink soda and eat margarine.

        1. Whoa Mari. I think your tirade should have been directed moreso at Hugo than O. Edlin. Just saying.

        2. This didn’t happen:
          “The 1950’s oddballs, sneered at by the preppies, became the Woodstock Nation in the ’60’s…”
          Sorry to rain on your parade there, sweetheart, but the people who wrote that history were smoking something other than a Marlboro…

        3. That wasn’t a tirade. Sad that people actually think that using one’s own common sense and sensitivity is a “tirade”.

          Sucks to be young and pretty dumb. Glad I’m old!

      1. Well, then, put her in a home, ,or do her shopping for her… WHY should WE have to wait because YOU can’t take care of YOUR mother, and expect US to cool our heels, while YOU get tanked “with the boys”… and THAT is the point, BOY.. GROW UP. If you won’t take care of you own Mama, don’t whine when WE won’t, either. [By the way, did she have any kids that lived?].

      1. You mean one day I will give up my one-swipe credit card, (or in rare cases use of cash), and start paying by check?

    2. seriously? Care to name how many times this exact scenario has ruined your wonderful life? Was there some guarantee I missed seeing that has YOU as first in every line, unhindered by any other tiresome human beings and their foibles? Seems like if I saw you coming, I’d duck or run, worried about how much damage you were going to do to anything that got near to that gynormous ego of yours.

      1. Oh, Marii… get out of the trailer more often… you’re TOO low on the totem pole to look down on ANYBODY!

    3. The ones I hate are the old ladies that insist on paying the EXACT amount in cash and spend 5 minutes digging in their purse for coin change to pay the exact amount.

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