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10 Tips to Avoid Being Swindled at the Supermarket

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by Viv (subscribe)
Busy Mum who enjoys discovering new places with a special interest in finding fun and appropriate experiences for a child with Autism.
Published May 20th 2012
There are many tricks of the trade that a supermarket will employ to separate you from your money.

Image by lyzadanger. Edit by Diliff (Wikimedia Commons)


Here's a list to help navigate the maze of food shopping.

1. Make a list.
Break your list up into products you need & products that you buy on special. Check the specials, if the product is not on special, transpose it to the special list for next week. If you have to purchase, buy the smallest quantity and wait until it comes on special again.

2. Eat before you go.
An empty stomach can undo all your good work. If you eat before you go, you'll be less likely to impulse buy.

3. Never purchase from dump bins and displays at the end of an aisle.
These products are not necessarily on special. Always compare prices of similar products in the aisles in the product department. These bins are also placed around the store to help induce sales.

4. Look around the shelves.
The most expensive products are always at eye level. There may well be a better priced item on a lower or higher shelf.

5. Unit Pricing.
Get out your calculator to compare sizes of the same product.
Companies are now getting sneaky and do not want to make this easy. Supermarkets do not like "Unit pricing" and will do anything to create confusion. For example, a product will be $ X.XX for 100g and the same product will be $ X.XX for 1 unit.

A further note on unit pricing rules from the www.accc.gov.au website "Combinations of different grocery items sold together (or 'bundled') for a single price do not have to be unit priced. For example, an offer that enables you to buy a packet of frozen potato chips and a separate packet of frozen fish fillets for a single price would not require unit pricing."

6. Beware pre-prepared products.
Grate your own cheese from blocks instead of buying the pre-grated cheese. Strangely enough, bagged & washed lettuce leaves are cheaper than buying a whole oak or rocket lettuce with the root ball attached.

Use the last slices of stale bread for breadcrumbs and freeze.
Freeze leftovers for a healthy and cheap "frozen dinner" at a later time.

7. Check sizes of products.
Just because they are sold in bulk does not mean they are cheaper. This applies particularly to laundry products. Sometimes a smaller size is the better buy.

Watch "multibuys" and bulk buys. Do not overbuy. A multibuy is not a saving if it takes forever to use it. Consider group buying with friends or neighbours.

8. Meat Department V Deli.
Prices differ in different departments at the same store. Chicken cuts are normally cheaper at the deli and the same goes for smoked salmon. However, ham prices (portion) are often cheaper per kg in the meat section and last longer than the pre-cut at the deli.

9. Check the clearance shelves.
In most supermarkets, hidden somewhere, is the clearance section. Sometimes bargains can be sourced here. Damaged stock, stock due to expire and discontinued lines.

10. Confectionery Free checkout.
Great if you have children with you and great so you are not tempted. It's much easier and cheaper if you don't take the kids.
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Why? Don't Get Cheated at the Supermarket!
Where: At the Supermarket
Your Comment
I think you're being a little altruistic. Supermarkets are in the business of separating you from your money the best way they can. Also, you need to be aware that loyalty schemes are simply a way of obtaining marketing data that can be on-sold to marketing agencies. So much for Integrity!
by alex. (score: 0|4) 1876 days ago
I think the best way to save money at the supermarket is to be flexible. Buy up on specials. Plan your meal around the marked-down meat or produce, rather than go in with a fixed plan......you can save a lot of money this way
by phili (score: 0|3) 1880 days ago
Nice tips, but I think you're pinning supermarkets as these evil monsters. Where is the shopper's responsibility in being wasteful? These tips, apart from the confectionary checkout one, are common sense that people should already have. It is not the fault of the supermarket if people don't write a list or go shopping before having eaten. Also, my local supermarkets always display the price per 100grams or kg as relevant consistently.

However, this article is highly informative for those who don't write a list or eat before the supermarket, etc. It would be silly of me to assume that everyone has common sense. It's just that supermarkets aren't evil in the way that you're trying to paint them. Also, their accounting data is highly conservative, which says a lot about their integrity as organisations.
by Maz Serena Rockers (score: 2|548) 1878 days ago
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