A shopping survival guide - MoneySense

A shopping survival guide

Retail stores have a bunch of ways to make you spend more. Here’s how to survive a shopping trip with your budget intact.



From offering you the convenience of carts and baskets, to placing things in just the right spot, they’re pushing your buttons so you’ll spend more.

Tactic #1: Shopping carts
Even if you run in for only a loaf of bread, a jug of wine and an apple, you’re likely to grab a cart on the way in. Then they’ve gotcha. Ever found yourself at the checkout wondering how you managed to find so many things you needed? The empty cart did that to you.

Remedy: If you skip the cart and carry the few things you intended to get in your arms, you’re far less likely to browse and pick-up as you go.

Tactic #2: Front-loaded goodies
Ever noticed how all the staples are at the back of the store. The reason they put the milk, eggs and bread towards the back is to make you walk through all the other stuff to get what you need.

Remedy: Never go into a store without a shopping list. And stick to it. Head directly to the back of the store, and work your way forward. Hopefully, by the time you’ve got your staples, you’ll be tired of shopping and just want to get the heck out of there.

Tactic #3: Pseudo sales
Even when an item isn’t on sale it can be advertised as if it were. I almost got caught by a pseudo sale on frozen pizza. A closer look at the actual price showed that while it was being highlighted by the store, it wasn’t on sale at all.

Remedy: Know your product prices. No, you can’t expect to know them all – unless you shop with a price book – but even knowing the regular and usual sale price of the 25-50 things you buy most often will help you avoid being bamboozled.

Tactic #4: Product placement
Stores place the most profitable products at eye level where they’re most likely to catch your attention. Staples tend to be in the centre of the aisle, while the nice-to-haves are at the ends where they hope you’ll pass them twice.

Remedy: Whenever something catches your eye, look a shelf above and a shelf below to see if there is a less expensive version just a reach away. The best per-unit deals are usually on the bottom shelf, so stoop and save.