ADVERTISEMENT

Want grocery store bargains? It's easy: Look high and low

By Gary Foreman

The New Frugal You
New Frugal You columnist Gary Foreman
Gary Foreman is a former financial planner who currently edits The Dollar Stretcher website and newsletters. He writes "New Frugal You," a weekly Q&A column about frugal living, for CreditCards.com

Ask a question.

'New Frugal You' archive

Question for the CreditCards.com expert

Dear New Frugal You,
I've been told that when you go to a supermarket you should look up or down on the shelves for the best priced items. The more expensive goods (i.e., brand name) pay to be right at eye level so you're more likely to purchase them. But if you take a minute and look above and below eye level, you will usually find a cheaper, less advertising-dependent item. Is that true? --Heidi

Answer for the CreditCards.com expert

Dear Heidi,
Yes, Heidi, those crafty folks at the grocery store study us. They're looking for ways that they can increase their profits. That's not a surprise. But some of the ways that they do it probably aren't obvious to many shoppers. And you're absolutely right: Product location is a key element to their strategy.

It's common for manufacturers to pay grocery stores for better shelf placement. They believe that it's money well spent.

The truth is that when we shop, we're only aware of a fraction of the choices available to us. Many products, especially those on the lower shelves, are not even noticed by the average shopper. If they're not noticed, they can't be bought.

It's hard to believe that marketers think that we're too lazy or too rushed to bend over. But, as it turns out, studies show that products at eye level sell 20 percent more than similar items lower on the shelf. It may not just be laziness or that we're racing through the store, however. Shoppers assume, incorrectly, that items on higher shelves are of better quality than those on the lower shelves.

What can we learn from this? That your best deals will often be found on the lower shelves or in less convenient locations. Before you toss the brand-named product that's displayed at eye level into your cart, look around for less expensive alternatives.

Be aware of how grocers display their products. Avoid displays that have everything you need for a meal in one place. None of the items in the display will be on sale. Nor with they be the best value for that particular item. You'll have to walk all over the store to pick out the best buys, but it's worth the effort.

Watch the "end caps." Those are the shelves at the end of the aisles. They're high visibility and high profit locations, and they're designed to catch your attention (and your dollars).

Stores also make it hard to just run in for one or two items. You'll notice that the milk and deli sections are in the back. You can't help but walk by all of those enticing displays encouraging you to add a few extra items to your basket.

The average grocery store has tens of thousands of items. And most shoppers will spend three seconds or less finding something. Marketers know this, and take advantage of it.

The good news is that it is easy to defeat their tactics. By simply spending an extra two seconds, you can cut your grocery bill. And, in this time of rising food prices, that's a real help to the New Frugal You.

See related:  Cheap meals for large families

Meet CreditCards.com's reader Q&A experts

Does a personal finance problem have you worried? Monday through Saturday, CreditCards.com's Q&A experts answer questions from readers. Ask a question, or click on any expert to see their previous answers.

Published: April 7, 2011


Join the discussion
We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

If you are commenting using a Facebook account, your profile information may be displayed with your comment depending on your privacy settings. By leaving the 'Post to Facebook' box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below.

The editorial content on CreditCards.com is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company's business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.




Follow Us


Updated: 12-03-2016


Weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, advice, articles and tips delivered to your inbox. It's FREE.


ADVERTISEMENT