12 tricks supermarkets use to mislead revealed

Pricing confusion is a massive bugbear for shoppers. Picture: GettyPricing confusion is a massive bugbear for shoppers. Picture: Getty
Pricing confusion is a massive bugbear for shoppers. Picture: Getty
MISLEADING price tactics and confusing store layouts are among customers’ biggest gripes when it comes to doing their supermarket shop, it has been claimed.

Stores employ a raft of tricks to tempt people into spending more, but quite often they make shopping more difficult in the process.

And the annoyance customers feel is ramped up massively when they know why it is being done, said Helen Dewdney, consumer champion and author of How to: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results.

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“I wonder sometimes if supermarket bosses think all their customers are daft,” she said.

“We know that most of this goes on but unfortunately we can not do anything about it. And the trouble is if we try and avoid it all, we spend even longer in there.

“The biggest complaint by customers though without doubt is the pricing confusions, which we want to see stopped.”

Ms Dewdney spoke to a host of customers before compiling her list of the 12 most annoying tactics employed by supermarkets, listed below.

• Moving products around so you spend longer in the store trying to find what you want;

• Putting the lowest priced option at the highest point on a shelf so shorter people can’t reach;

• Online or in-store exclusives which create a sense of immediacy when selecting products, so consumers will usually spend more than intended, to avoid a feeling of missing out;

• Making it difficult to work out the best offer, frequently with ready-packaged fruit and vegetables portrayed as having discounts versus loose;

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• Offers such as three for £10 when you only wanted one or two;

• Pumping out the smell of bread baking to lure you in or make you hungry;

• Slow music to make you move more slowly round the aisles;

• High-sugar or higher-priced brand items at eye level for children;

• Putting deals at the entrance of the store such as biscuits to prompt impulse buys;

• Putting fruit, vegetables and flowers at the front of the store to create an atmosphere of health and also provide smells and pleasant imagery, generating positive “vibes” to make people buy more. “This is annoying because these are the items that we want to put on top of the shopping, not at the bottom where it is going to get crushed,” says Ms Dewdney;

• If you only want the essentials, such as bread, milk, fruit and vegetables but they are placed as far away from each other as possible to make you travel round the store;

• Packaging: is that “Finest” or “Taste the difference” really better? In many tests and reviews this isn’t the case but people are conned into spending more because they think they are better quality.