Deceptive signs, "charm" pricing and cunning display tactics: How supermarkets make you spend more

Deceptive signs, 'charm' pricing and cunning display tactics: How supermarkets make you spend moreAlso how to cut your spending by up to 60 per cent with coupons and savings club cards

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UPDATED:

17:30 GMT, 3 April 2012

Consumer Reports has released an eye-opening report in its May issue that reveals how supermarkets trick consumers into spending more and how visitors to their stores can hope to avoid the pitfalls.

As part of the investigation, one shopping pro from the consumer-driven resource discovered that he could cut costs of his 20-item shopping list by up to 60 per cent by using coupons and other money saving techniques.

And by understanding the way the supermarkets stocked their shelves and arranged their produce, savings could potentially increase further.

Daunting: Supermarkets use numerous clever tricks to make shoppers spend more money according to Consumer Reports (stock image)

Daunting: Supermarkets use numerous clever tricks to make shoppers spend more money according to Consumer Reports (stock image)

Tod Marks took a shopping list of 20 generic items to a local superstore and loaded his basket with products bought entirely on impulse in terms of brands and types. The bill came to $164.64.

But when he brought coupons and used saving-cards and weekly deal flyers on his next visit, the total cost of his shopping for the same items came to only $93.12.

The consumer expert joined a warehouse club and managed to reduce this number even further to an impressive $67.64 and when he became a store-brand fan, Mr Marks ticked every item off his list for a meagre $66.23.

In total he had reduced the price tag of his initial shop by a whopping 60 per cent.

Consumer Reports also disclosed the
secrets behind the layout and arrangement of supermarket products that
send subliminal messages to their purchasers encouraging them to spend
more money.

It found that often the signs and
banners offering sales and deals are intentionally deceptive and that
consumers are fooled into believing they are getting a bargain when they
are in fact not.

TIPS TO REDUCE COSTS
Signs that say 5 for $5 don't necessarily mean you have to buy 5 for the lower priceLook at the higher and lower shelving where the cheaper brands are stockedDon't be fooled by the number .99
Start your shop from the other end and go against the trafficKeep couponsJoin loyalty programsUse weekly deal flyers
Be wary of 'endcaps' that don't actually have reduced stock

For example, a sign that reads '5 for $5' would have the shopper believe that to benefit from the deal, he or she must buy five items.

But rarely, according to the report, is that the truth. The retailer is simply 'planting a number in your head'.

The same logic applies to the use of the 9 or 99 on price tags which according to the investigation is known as 'charm' pricing intended to make the consumer think an item is cheaper.

Other tidbits of advice gleaned from the findings suggested entering the store from the other end and shopping against the flow of traffic. This technique proved to cut a trip by $2 on average.

It also may mean the cake and sweet treats are left out of the basket. Research found that when shoppers enter where the fresh produce is displayed, they have fewer qualms about buying sugary snacks and ice cream on the last aisle as a reward for picking out vegetables and fruits.

Consumers were encouraged to look at the top and bottom shelves for a more affordable selection of brands and price points as some companies pay stockists to place their goods at eye level making them a more prominent choice.

And attention was drawn the shelving designed to stick out and catch the eye as well as 'endcap' displays that often don't actually offer anything reduced.

With so many traps to avoid, the prospect of the next supermarket shop may seem daunting but remembering them is a small price to pay for a smaller price to pay.