Common Grocery Store Traps That Cost You Money

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Grocery Store Traps

Grocery store chains have hired people just to figure out how to trick us into buying more items. Of course, their livelihood depends on it, right? But our livelihood depends on being able to save some money – so we don’t run out!

Avoiding these common grocery store traps will save you time and money.

Grocery Ad1Mixing sale and non-sale items in the circular

This is a common trap that many of us fall into, because we are looking for a deal but then get distracted by other items that we may want or need in the same circular that are not on sale. When looking for sales, make sure you reference your price book (or past circulars) to see if it’s really a deal.

End Cap2“Sales” on end caps

Everyone knows end caps are there to get your attention. Even when the items aren’t on sale, though, there will be bright signs to suck you in. Instead of grabbing products on the end caps, venture into the aisle and see if there are other brands that may be cheaper. If the item on the end cap was actually the cheapest, you can always go back.

Cookies In Bakery3Samples, scents, and sales, oh my!

When you go to the grocery store on an empty stomach, you’re more likely to buy more food. If you taste one sample, you’re going to want another – that’s the whole point! Skip the samples – and the delicious smelling bakery section – and you’ll save yourself a pretty penny.

Empty Grocery Store Shelf4“Out of stock”

You head into the store for a deal. You’ve gathered your coupons, checked the circular, and made your list. But once you get there, they are out of the items you had on your list. Instead of shopping for other items in the store, and spending more money, go to the customer service desk and get a rain check. Then leave the store without purchasing anything. If you “need” something, you can get it on the next trip. Don’t fall into the trap!

Huge Grocery Cart5Bigger grocery carts!

This is psychology 101. It’s crazy how they trick us with little things like this, but why in the world would stores increase their cart size (which costs them money)? To get us to buy more, of course! Try shopping with a hand basket instead. Once it starts to get full, you’ll realize you’ve actually already gotten what was on your list so you will head to the check-out.

Candy At Grocery Store Checkout6Check-out traps

Magazines, candy bars, and sodas… just say no! If you are going to buy a soda, get a 2-liter for a buck instead of a 20 ounce for $1.39. If you want a candy bar, make sure they’re on sale first… not $.79 a piece. And the magazines? Subscribe to them and get a much better deal.

What’s your trick for avoiding grocery store tactics like these? Leave a comment below and let us know!


  1. I order my groceries delivered, basically because I have no car and you can’t really lug a week’s worth of groceries on the bus. What I have noticed is that I do way less impulse buying because I don’t get caught by the “boy, that looks good” moment. I order online, go down the list of things I know I need instead of walking through aisles and being maneuvered into seeing items I’m really not looking for. There is a delivery fee, but I bet I save enough on avoiding the “looks yummy” purchases. If I have what I want and feel I can afford an extra, THEN I look for it.

  2. We often need to make just a milk run. When I need milk, I never fall into the trap of purchasing everything I see on the way to the milk, which is purposely located in the farthest back corner of the store in order to get you to shop for other items on your way for the milk.

    I will put on my blinders, walk fast get my milk and leave with a feeling of power.

  3. This is a very good article! Thank you. I often follow these same tips already. Just to ad to “out of Stock” if I may, I often will ask if there is anymore in the back. Often times the employees have gotten busy and have not put more out after items on sale have sold or I will go to another store (that I am going to anyway) and see if they also have the item I need and try to price match the sale price of the last store.


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