Grocery stores are full of weird things we’ve all become desensitized to after countless trips to the store. The truth is, grocery store trick customers into spending more money. These tricks are so subtle, customers hardly ever notice. Here are weird things grocery stores do and why they do them. Keep these in mind the next time you visit your local grocery store.
Produce is at the front of grocery stores for a reason
Picking good produce is hard enough. Grocery stores make it even harder with this weird tactic. “Its bright colors put you in a good mood and inspire you to buy more,” Phil Lempert, grocery industry expert and editor of supermarketguru.com, told TIME. Lempert recommends starting in the middle of the grocery store where boxes and cans are housed. This plan will help keep spending in check.
Cakes on display in grocery stores are old
Lindsay Smith, a former cake decorator and bakery worker, says not to buy a cake 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,” Smith told TIME. She recommends ordering a cake in advance. The cake will be made the day or night prior to the pick-up date and will be much fresher.
Produce is sprayed with water to look prettier
It’s common to see greens being misted with water at the grocery store. But did you ever wonder why this happens? National Geographic’s The Plate turned to Martin Lindstrom, author of Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy, for the answer. “Though used to give fresh foods a deceptive dewy and fresh-picked look, the water actually has no practical purpose,” Lindstrom wrote. While food misted with water looks tastier, it also weighs more. Gently shake the loose water from produce before putting it in your cart to save money.
Checkout lanes are narrow with little shelf space
More than 60% of shoppers unload items before they checkout. For this reason, grocery stores began making checkout lanes smaller with less shelf space. Customers are less inclined to unload an item because there’s no room to set the item down in the checkout lane. “It’s harder to ditch goods at the last minute,” Lindstrom told TIME.
Leftover food is reused
Fruits and vegetables on the verge of turning bad get a second life. They’re used “in our prepared foods,” Bradley McHugh told TIME. Think about that the next time you buy prepared food. It may not last too long after you take the food home.
Why fresh bread is sold in a brown paper bag
There’s a reason fresh bread from the bakery is sold in brown paper bags. “The bread may go stale faster, sending you back to the store to buy more,” Smith told TIME. She suggests transfering bread from the paper bag to an airtight plastic bag to keep the bread fresh. I’ve done this on multiple occasions, either wasting the rest of the loaf that became stale or ran back to the store for more.
Grocery stores will lose money on items
Yes, you read that correctly. Grocery stores will lose money on a few items to get customers in the door. “One or two things are very good prices. Those things bring you in, and while you are in you buy a few things that aren’t on sale that week. Repeat every week,” Reddit user jelacey said, according to AdWeek. People will buy an item majorly discounted, only to make impulse purchases while at the grocery store.
Time slips away
There’s a reason why grocery stores don’t have “external time cues,” National Geographic’s, The Plate says. “Most have no windows or skylights, and shoppers are often hard-pressed to find a clock.” Customers spend additional time in the store, lose track of time, and spend more money. As a shopper, do your best to focus on what you need and keep an eye on your phone for the time.
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Read more: The 6 Cheapest Grocery Stores in the U.S.