Supermarket Savvy: Tips for Shopping Smarter
by Jill Shuman, MS, RD, ELS
More than just purveyors of milk and eggs, supermarkets have learned how to entice consumers with smell, targeted shelf placement, and psychological subterfuge.
For instance, the layout of your local supermarket is not as arbitrary as it seems. It is designed to make you spend as much as possible on what the store wants you to buy—which is often more than what you came in for. Meat, poultry, and seafood are usually displayed along the entire back length of the store so that you will see them every time you emerge from an aisle—an appropriate placement for the most profitable department in the store!
Ever wonder why the dairy department is so far away from the main entrance? Almost everybody buys milk and eggs, and the stores recognize that. To reach the dairy case, you have to walk through the entire market, tossing a few extra items into your cart along the way. Half of a store's profits come from these "perimeter" items, which include milk, cheese, meat, deli products, and produce; the more time you spend shopping along the sides and back of the supermarket, the more money the store makes. It is no coincidence that you have to walk through the produce department just as you enter the market. Produce and flowers are the second most profitable department in the supermarket.
Luring You into the Supermarket
Here are some even subtler techniques supermarkets use to entice you to spend:
Placement and Profits
Placement of packages on supermarket shelves is very carefully planned. Supermarket executives use computer-generated planograms to help them place products on shelves in a way that creates the greatest possible profit.
As you decide which type of product to buy, determine how you plan to use it. Your family may balk at generic juices, but probably will not notice the difference between name-brand and house-brand dairy products, condiments, or canned vegetables.
American Dietetic Association
Canadian Council on Food and Nutrition
Dietitians of Canada
How to Stretch Your Grocery Shopping Budget. The All State Blog website. Available at: https://www.allstate.com/blog/smart-grocery-shopping/. Created February 20, 2019. Accessed May 21, 2020.
9 Grocery Shopping Tips. American Heart Association website. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/cooking-skills/shopping/grocery-shopping-tips. Updated APril 16, 2018. Accessed May 21, 2020.
15 Tricks to Save Money on Food But Still Eat Well. Eating Well website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed May 21, 2020.
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.