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Here Are 12 Ways Grocery Stores Trick You Into Spending More

Don't let these tricks fool you, too!

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Lady pushing a shopping cart in the supermarket.hxdyl/Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock / hxdyl

Oversize carts

Is it just me, or are grocery carts getting much bigger? Turns out, it’s not just me—it’s actually a tactic to get you to spend more money. With a bigger cart, it looks like you are buying less food, meaning you can continue to fill it to what you think is the “proper” amount of groceries. This means you’ll be more likely to make some impulse purchases to fill your cart, which stores are already prepared for in secret spots while you shop.

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CupcakesPhoto: Shutterstock / Ruth Black
Photo: Shutterstock / Ruth Black

Seasonal foods in front

Always greeted with an assortment of seasonal goodies as soon as you walk in? Those front displays are littered with cupcakes and cookies specifically decorated for holidays like Valentine’s Day, Easter, or even the Fourth of July. Those are there on purpose! Having them in the front gets you thinking about celebrating that holiday, and eventually buying them to celebrate.

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Tyler Olson/Shutterstock
Photo: Tyler Olson/Shutterstock

“Scent Marketing”

You know all of those stands around the store with free samples? Those aren’t just there for you to taste, but also to smell. Having a delicious-smelling food is a marketing tactic beyond word (or taste) of mouth that gets your stomach rumbling. Once you smell that delicious scent, you can’t help but taste and eventually buy.

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Syda Productions/Shutterstock
Photo: Syda Productions/Shutterstock

Strategic shelving

Ever wonder why you’re always finding healthier options these days? That’s on purpose! Grocery stores will actually place particular items at the eye level of particular customers. For example, you may find yourself eyeing some healthier cereal options, while your child can’t help but fall in love with those sugary cereals that are strategically placed at their eye level.

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Grocery store shelf of maple syrupsPhoto: Taste of Home
Photo: Taste of Home

Expensive items at eye level

Speaking of placing items at eye level, it’s common to find pricier items since they are also placed at an easy distance. For example, next time you’re looking for a box of pasta, don’t just grab the first one you see. Take a glance around the pasta section and see if you can find a less expensive brand. You may just find them underneath or above that expensive box you usually buy.

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Photo: Kzenon / Shutterstock

Layout changes

Curious why stores will switch things up every now and then? It’s another tactic! As you search for the product you need, you come across new food items you think you need. Cha-ching, cha-ching.

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Woman shopping milk in grocery storeShutterstock / Sergey Ryzhov
Photo: Shutterstock / Sergey Ryzhov

Essentials in the back

Except for the produce, you may find that those essentials you always need (like milk, eggs, butter) are toward the back of your store. This means you have to travel to that section in order to grab those ingredients, making you walk past lots of other junk food, seasonal items, and those “scent marketing” free sample stands.

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Close-up view of raw chicken eggs in egg box on white wooden backgroundPhoto: Shutterstock/LightField Studios
Photo: Shutterstock/LightField Studios

Overpriced “healthy” brown eggs

Most items that are brown tend to be healthier, right? Pasta, bread, tortillas…when you buy whole-wheat versions, they tend to be the healthier option. But not for eggs! Those overpriced eggs have the exact same nutritional value as the white ones. The color simply has to do with where they come from: White eggs come from chickens with white feathers, brown eggs come from brown ones.

Check out these other grocery store items that have high markups.

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Ordinary Citizen/Shutterstock
Photo: Ordinary Citizen/Shutterstock

10-for-$10 deals

Ten for $10 is an incredible deal, but did you know you don’t actually have to buy 10 items to get the deal? That’s right—even if you buy three, you only have to pay $3. It’s just another way to trick you into to buying more items!

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Photo: Adisa/Shutterstock

Prices ending in .99

The oldest trick in the book: Tick down the price by one penny and that top number will go down an entire dollar. But in reality, it’s just a penny. Admit it—when you see something that’s $4.99, you think it’s so cheap. But in reality, it is practically $5.

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Shutterstock / hacohob
Photo: hacohob/Shutterstock

Higher prices for salty meat

Did you know that a typical chicken breast is usually injected with a solution that can account to almost 30 percent of the weight? Stores will actually inject a saline solution to make the meat tastier, which means making it heavier than normal (same goes for spraying produce).

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bogdan ionescu/Shutterstock
Photo: bogdan ionescu/Shutterstock

Checkout snack shops

Trust us, placing the candy bars at checkout wasn’t because it was the “most convenient place to put them.” No, it’s for those moments when you want a quick snack in the car after getting seriously hungry from all of that grocery shopping (and scent marketing). Beware!