Supermarket Tricks


If you need a cake, don’t buy it the day you need it.
We’ll have to give you one from the display case, and those cakes have often been sitting out for a while. If you order in advance, we’ll make the cake for you that day or the night before, and it will be a lot fresher. — Lindsay Smith, former cake decorator and bakery worker at a grocery store near Birmingham, Alabama

Over 60 percent of shoppers off-load products as they check out.
So supermarkets started making checkout lanes narrower, with less shelf space, which means it’s harder to ditch goods at the last minute. — Martin Lindstrom

Reader’s Digest put together a list of supermarket tricks we all fall for (here is a link that will save you from having to click through a 50-slide slideshow), and a lot of it is interesting! I did not know the thing about the cakes, for example, and I’ve definitely bought cakes straight out of the display case many times. I have never ditched anything at the checkout lane though.

Photo: Joe Schlabotnik

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18 Comments / Post A Comment

You’ll start ditching stuff if you ever go to a supermarket with kids in tow!

Mike Dang (#2)

@forget it i quit 0_o I cannot WAIT

grog (#2,222)

@forget it i quit That’s probably my biggest gripe about shopping – folks ditching stuff, especially frozen stuff, where is doesn’t belong.

I can almost give a pass to the frazzled mom or dad with one kid screaming, another kid constantly putting junk food in the cart and another kid wandering off down the aisle (I’ve been there, but with only two kids). But it seems like most folks are just too lazy or inconsiderate to go back to where they got the stuff from.

Kthompson (#1,858)

“Our French bread was exactly the same as our Italian bread…
…which was the same as our White Mountain bread. They were all made with the same dough and then shaped differently”

YOU BASTARDS.

BATS! (#2,770)

“The produce department is at the front of the store because…
its bright colors put you in a good mood and inspire you to buy more. That’s why I recommend that you start shopping in the middle of the store, with its bland boxes and cans.”

This is terrible advice, no? Starting with the produce department just ensures that I fill up my basket with fresh fruits and vegetables instead of fruit roll-ups and dunkaroos.

Allison (#4,509)

@BATS! also since when are the boxes in the middle not brightly colored? unless you start in the toilet paper/paper towels aisle.

aardvark (#3,451)

@BATS! Maybe they’re counting on people seeing the produce but not buying it?
I thought the prevailing advice was to shop the edges of the store starting with the produce, and get only the bare minimum from the middle? (Ha, like anyone can resist the Cheez-its’ siren song forever!!!)

@Allison Yes! And the middle of the store makes me more excited because ARTIFICIAL SUGAR and CHOCOLATE. I try to follow the advice from @BATS! and have a very specific idea of what non-edge foodstuffs I want/need so I don’t go down aisle after aisle of dunkeroos.

ATF (#4,229)

@polka dots vs stripes Wait. Do they still make dunkeroos?!?

bgprincipessa (#699)

@ATF Wait, that’s a very important question. Why is this in my head now

CaddyFdot (#2,686)

@BATS! @aardvark Yep, this piece of advice changed how I shop when I go to a regular supermarket like Safeway. I only go into the middle section now for very particular items, and mostly start with a big loop around the outside to get fresh stuff, dairy…and booze. I eat more healthy food at home now than I did before I made that change.

BATS! (#2,770)

@bgprincipessa They definitely still make dunkaroos. Fascinating trivia: the Dunkaroos kangaroo in the tv commercials was voiced by John Cameron Mitchell.

Also re: the produce being bright – not in the understocked, three days too old produce section at my local Safeway :/

@polka dots vs stripes My first job was as a cashier at my local grocery store, this whole thing is very interesting!

You can’t win when you’re a bagger.
If you put a loaf of bread in a bag by itself, some people get mad because they want it with their other groceries. But other customers get mad if you don’t put the bread in a 
separate bag. —Jason Swett

You would think that would mean that when I said “No, please, let me bag” you would GLADLY get out of my way because you’re right, you can’t win, so just let me do it and we’ll all be happy. Baggers who put produce and bread at the bottom of the bag >:

CaddyFdot (#2,686)

I had no idea they just toss all that deli counter food. I guess I hadn’t given it much thought at all, but I would have guessed that at least employees would be able to take some of it home. I wonder how much of the 40% of wasted food this accounts for.

boringbunny (#3,260)

Reader’s Digest is still around?!?!?

jquick (#3,730)

I simply don’t believe the apples are 14+ months old.

Allison (#4,509)

@jquick I read that and wondered if they meant like, maturation time? or something but even that is nonsensical

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