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8 supermarket traps that can catch you off guard

Silent, subtle, but frequent, these are the traps in the supermarket. They can be a major obstacle to saving. So recognize them and avoid them.

There are different traps in the supermarket that you may never have thought of. Ever wanted to go to the supermarket to buy just a few things and brought too many? Did it take longer than I thought? Discover 8 of these traps that can elude you and that you should avoid.

Supermarket Pitfalls: Recognize and Avoid Them


Smell of freshly cooked food

Smell is one of the 5 senses that can betray us and that supermarkets use as a true sales technique. Do you know the smell of freshly baked bread and cakes? Doesn’t it make you want to go buy food right away?

Also in the candy and chocolate aisle you can be attracted by its sweet aroma or even in the cleaning section, where the scent of detergents may make you try something new. Remember that you may be being betrayed by your senses.


Products you can’t find

Have you ever noticed that essential products like milk or sugar are at the end of the supermarket? And when we look for spices or herbs, are they sometimes not in the last place we found them the last time? Or how the products you buy often are often hard to find and far apart?

All of this has a purpose: to force customers to wander between aisles and shelves looking for what they really need, with the aim of getting them to buy on impulse or buy things they hadn’t planned to buy.


Arrangement of shelves

Sometimes it may be in the right section, but the arrangement of products on the shelves makes it difficult to find the exact product you want and you end up taking another one that, as a rule, is more expensive.

This is another supermarket trap that you must resist. Usually, the products of the most well-known brands are placed at eye level, so that we see them first.

If you are looking for a similar product, but from a white label or a lesser-known brand, don’t be fooled and look on the higher or lower shelves. You will see that it will make all the difference in your wallet.

Alluring offers come in many forms – such as promotions or discounts – that, at first glance, may seem like good deals. However, a closer look can denounce them.

The discounted price may seem cheap, but sometimes you find identical products at even better prices. The quality and quantity of similar products, even if some are on sale, makes a difference when shopping. In addition, these products may be even cheaper in other supermarkets.

This is one of the pitfalls in the supermarket that must have caught your attention. While promotions are welcome, we should keep our eyes and brain alert and ask, “Do we really need three units, even if one of them seems to be free?”

These promotions are very common in food products and one of the reasons for doing so is the approximation of expiration dates. If you can’t resist, at least see if you can consume those products within their expiration date.

Making a shopping list before you leave the house helps to resist tempting offers and impulse purchases. Then be careful to bring only what is on the list.

Vision is another one of our 5 senses that can play tricks on us. And sellers know this, so they design different packaging or images that make our mouths water and want to try the product.

For example, when you see fleshy fruit in a juice box, it makes you want to buy it. But is it really the juice of those fruits that we are going to drink? Does it not have additives, sugars and preservatives that harm your health?

To defend yourself from this trap in the supermarket, always check the ingredient lists and nutritional values. They are there to be read.

Grocery trolleys are generously sized, as the bigger the trolley, the greater the temptation to fill it up — and a half-empty trolley can feel like your shopping isn’t complete yet.

To defend yourself from this trap, and if you know that you are going to take very little and small volumes, you can easily carry them in your hands or choose to take a basket instead of the cart.


The temptations of queues to pay

Waiting is something we don’t like. And sellers know how to take advantage of that, trying to entice us until the last second. That’s why they take the opportunity to put a whole source of chocolates, pastilles and gums of different varieties next to the boxes – real temptations especially for children. Have you noticed that the shelves are even up to them?

Be more aware of the pitfalls in the supermarket and don’t be swayed by sales strategies. You will see that you will be able to eliminate waste and even develop healthy habits. Are you ready to go to the supermarket?

Article originally published May 2019. Updated November 2022.

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