How supermarkets tempt shoppers to part with their cash

It's easy to leave the checkout with a great deal more than you planned. Picture: PA
It's easy to leave the checkout with a great deal more than you planned. Picture: PA
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Following a recent customer satisfaction survey, Which? has just named Aldi as the top supermarket in the “in-store” category, while, Iceland and Ocado took top place in the “online” category.

But whichever supermarket is your favourite, there are some simple habits you can pick up when heading out shopping to help keep more of your money in your wallet.

Here are six top tips from Which? for savvier supermarket shopping.

Don’t always assume a ‘special offer’ is a great deal

Some 43 per cent of Which? members in a previous survey said supermarket special offers encourage them to buy more items. And previous research from Which? across several supermarkets has found that some “special offer” periods can actually last for nearly a year – making them arguably the normal price.

So if you’re going for something just because it says it’s on special offer, consider whether you might be better off just going with a cheaper alternative. Don’t buy it just because you feel a sense of urgency to snap up what looks like a special deal.

Stay focused

You may walk into the supermarket to buy something specific, but once you’re there, it’s so easy to get distracted by attractive displays or signs. Which? says one trick used is to place a sign in the middle of an aisle, because our eyes naturally scan from left to right, and breaking up that pattern encourages us to stop and read the offer.

Other tactics used by stores to encourage us to spend more may be to create an ambience, with smells of freshly baked bread or floral bouquets. Or they may create a sense of urgency to grab a bargain, with stacked up boxes of beer or other special deals. Take a deep breath and remind yourself what you went in for.

Avoid multi-buys which aren’t as good as they seem

The consumer group’s research has found that special multi-buy offers can look better than they really are, as in some cases the price of buying items individually can be ramped up by supermarkets just before the multi-buy deal kicks in, making the saving made from buying multiple items appear bigger.

Disregard dubious discounts

If a price is listed as “was x, now y”, you might expect 
the “x” price to be the most recent – but this isn’t always the case, as previous Which? research has found. Over a third (37 per cent) of Which? members say they’d go for this type of deal over any other offer – so they can be tempting.

Put your blinkers on

The essentials are often stocked at the back of the store, meaning you may have to walk past many tempting treats to get to what you need. Heading straight for what you want might be simple enough if it’s your regular supermarket, but it can be more difficult if it’s a store you’re less familiar with.

Consider own-brand alternatives

Own-brand products can be a very tasty way of saving money. Several own-brand products have gained prestigious Which? “best buy” status across the supermarkets – these have included M&S The Collection Mince Pies, Lidl Christmas pudding and Waitrose Blanc de Noirs Brut NV Champagne.