13 Things Your Grocer Won’t Tell You

Get smarter about grocery shopping. These tips could change your family eating habits.

By Adam Bluestein and Lauren Gniazdowski from Reader's Digest
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    1. If you hate crowds and lines, shop at dinnertime (5 to 9 p.m.) or even later. Only 4 percent of shoppers hit the aisles between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. Least-crowded day of the week? Wednesday.

    2. Go ahead and reach way back for the fresh milk. Everybody does.

    3. Coupons with a bar code are easy to scan. The other ones take an eternity. But if you're willing to wait …

    4. That star fruit has been here a lot longer than the broccoli. Familiar produce turns over more quickly than exotic things.

    5. 'The more products you see, the more you are likely to buy,' says Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat. 'That's why the aisles are so long and the milk is usually in the far corner.'

    6. Like employees with a good attitude? Shop at chains that are employee-owned, suggest customer-satisfaction surveys. When employees have a stake in the profits, it shows in their attitude.

    7. The 'grazers' order food at the deli, eat it as they're shopping, and get rid of the wrappers before they check out. We also call that stealing.

    8. I'm not just selling groceries, I'm selling real estate. Look high and low-literally-for good values from smaller manufacturers who can't afford to stock their products in the eye-level sweet spot.

    9. We're marketing to your kids too. That's why we put the rainbow-colored cereals and other kiddie catnip at their eye level.

    10. Be wary of 'specials.' When people see signs with numbers-'8 for $10!' 'Limit: 5 per customer'-they buy 30 to 100 percent more than they otherwise might have.

    11. The baby formula is locked up because thieves resell it on the black market. Ditto for the cough and cold medications, smoking-cessation products, razor blades, and batteries.

    12. Driving your Ferrari to the Piggly Wiggly and want to avoid shopping-cart dents? Park far, far away.

    13. You'll end up tossing 12 percent of what you buy.

    Sources: Maurice Nizzardo, former supermarket executive in Connecticut; David J. Livingston, an industry consultant; Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating; and others.


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    Your Comments

    • SaabADP

      I work at a grocery store a few of these are bunk. Actually 4 and 5PM is the busiest(people get out of work and flood the supermarket) if you want to avoid crowds go after 7:00(8pm-12am). Although there are a lot less registers open but no one shops past 7. And yes we market to you and your kids thats kind of obvious isn’t it?

    • Anne

      Did the writer of this article ever actually work in a grocery store? I am a cashier at one. 5 – 9 PM is NOT a quiet time, and plenty of Wednesdays ARE busy and crowded. People with typical Monday-Friday 9 AM – 5 PM jobs often stop buy the store after work on weekdays. We are quite busy between 5 to 7 PM. 8 to 11 PM (or later, if the store is open) is more quiet on Monday through Thursday. Friday and Saturday nights are busy, even late, because of people picking up snacks and beer, or coming back to re-fill on them. Sunday nights are often busy as well…don’t know why, but they are, even late.

    • Bladewalker56

      Whoever put this list together might want to know that I’m not reaching back inside the case to get the freshest milk; I’m doing it to get the coldest milk. The milk sitting at the front usually isn’t more than a few hours older, but it has been exposed to room temperature more frequently than the ones sitting behind it. That way maybe it will hopefully stay cold for a little longer while I finish my shopping. Whether my logic is correct or not, I don’t know, but this is why I do it.

    • Grocery biz

      Please do not talk down to me because I “work in a grocery store”. I sweep, mop, stock, cashier , clean restrooms and I am management and I make almost $100k a year… I went to college and I work for the store over 20 yrs so I have earned my position and its a good job and I make more than alot of other professions so please give my job the respect you would give a doctor, lawyer or teacher

    • tonymoo

       Baby formula is usually locked up because otherwise it is impossible to prevent theft.  The negative publicity that would befall a store that tried to prosecute somebody for stealing “to feed their baby” (true or not) would be horrible.  Remember the store last year that got a load of crap for busting a pregnant woman for eating a sandwich and not paying.  Multiply that by 100.

    • Vaokeh

      Stockers spend a lot of time rotating stock meaning putting the newest in back.  The grocery stores do this because if they didn’t they would end throwing out ~30% of perishables or having to wait to put them out which would increase time demands by 20~30%.  Either way, if you don’t take the one in front you’re increasing the price and wasting food on the product.  So although you can do it, but it’s still unethical and selfish.