Have you ever left the grocery store wondering HOW you spent all that money?

Did you know that grocery stores are designed purposefully to help you spend your money?

According to the Marketing Science Institute, an average of 51% of items purchased at the grocery store are considered impulse purchases. However, these impulse purchases can be as high as 68% of your shopping trip. And did you know that grocery stores use psychological tricks that keep you in the store longer, hence getting you to spend more money? These tricks, combined with decision fatigue, can make you unaware of the number of impulse purchases you make during your shopping experience. Decision fatigue is when your mind becomes overloaded by continuous decision-making. Those decisions can go from sensible to obscure. However, understanding these tricks and learning how to negate them can help you save money at the grocery store.

In 2013, a study done by Bangor University’s Psychology Department determined that we, as consumers, were less likely to succumb to decision fatigue within the first 23 minutes of being in the store. After that, we start making decisions with the emotional side of our brain rather than the logical side. After 40 minutes, decision fatigue sets in; this is when most impulse shopping takes place. We start buying things we want, chips and cookies, instead of things we need, carrots and apples.

The store’s atmosphere also coaxes us to spend more time shopping, allowing us to hit the decision fatigue stage. Next time you are in the grocery store, listen to the music playing. The background music playing over the loudspeakers matches our movement in the store, slow! Using slow background music has been shown to have increase sales by as much as 40%! Smells are another way stores try to increase our impulse purchases. These smells are known as scent marketing strategies. Adding scents like fresh bread in the bakery section or chocolate in the candy aisle can increase our spending. Who wouldn’t want to bring home some freshly baked bread or sweet candy!

Similarly, stores set up their floor plans strategically by placing the most popular items in the back. For many of us, we have at least one dairy item on our shopping list. Therefore, most stores place their dairy sections in the back corner of their store. The grocery store is hoping by having you walk through the entire store: you will pick up a few other impulse items on your way. Another strategic store setup is the fresh produce in the front of the store. Researchers have found that stocking up on fresh fruits and vegetables early in the shopping trip means we may feel the need to reward ourselves with expensive treats that are not on our shopping list. Even when sticking to your shopping list, there are ways to save money! The most expensive items are usually placed at eye level and on easy to reach shelves, whereas the lower-priced products are lower on the shelves, usually by your feet. As the end of the shopping trip nears and you’re waiting in line, do you ever feel like you are stuck? Narrow checkout spaces were designed knowing that typically once a person is in line, they would be less likely to leave the store without making a purchase. Lastly, did you know that grocery carts have almost tripled in size since they were invented in 1937? This makes more room for a consumer to unknowingly purchase more food.

If you are looking for ways to help trim your grocery budget or try to stretch your dollar, contact me to set an appointment. Email me at Creynolds@newdimensionsfcu.com or call (207) 660-6267.