Thursday, April 11, 2024

Why Fred and Barney are at Knee Level

 I changed grocery stores.

For years I have been shopping primarily at a national chain grocery store, being pleased with their dedication to lower prices and decent quality.  But then they re-arranged their store.  I went in to shop one day and there was a team of contract workers who were moving merchandise en masse from shelf to shelf.  When I went back a week or two later, their task accomplished, I found….no, that’s the wrong verb.  I didn’t “find” anything.  Nothing was in the place to which I had become accustomed over the years.  Paper towels in an aisle opposite frozen food?  I literally spent double the normal amount of time doing the grocery shopping that day.  And I haven’t been back since.

Perhaps if that store had done some other things right I’d still shop there.  But of late even during busy hours they had at most two cashiers working.  The largest part of the checkout area was devoted to self-checkout machines.  And I often found mistakes on their pricing at the checkout.  (Yes, I admit it; I do check the receipt for mistakes and have been amply rewarded.  I’ve been refunded more than enough to pay for a nice restaurant meal in the last year or two and have received some merchandise for free for catching their errors.)

So I have started shopping at a smaller chain grocery store, as well as at a specialty local grocer, and am very pleased.  I’m saving money, which I did not expect.  The stores are cleaner, brighter, and less congested, and there are enough cashiers all the time such that I’m never more than third in line, and am usually first or second.  And there’s no self-checkout area.  Mistakes on their receipts?  Non-existent.  If the shelf or weekly circular advertises a sale, that sale price invariably comes up at checkout.

Thinking about this experience, I thought it might be a good time to review some grocery store tricks for getting you to spend more money, because that shuffling of goods that turned me against the one chain is a frequently used ploy; if you are having to wander the store looking for what is on your list, you will be exposed to more items, more temptations to buy stuff not on your list and not really needed.  But how about these tricks:

·         Placing higher priced goods at eye level, lower priced goods on the top or bottom shelves

·         Large shopping carts, to induce us to fill them (this works like a charm on my neighbor)

·         Cartoon character-themed goods placed at children’s eye level

·         Music playing to both keep you in a good mood and slow down your shopping experience so you purchase more (Then, once you are in the checkout line, the cashier rushes you through; one even told me they are evaluated on how quickly they move customers through the line.  No chit-chat, please.  Very impersonal.)

·         Essential and often-purchased items placed in the back of the store or the middle aisles, forcing shoppers to pass more shelves and hopefully purchase more non-essential items


And of course, don’t go to the store hungry.  It’s tempting to go to Costco to get a light, free lunch from all the samples, but that only whets your appetite and causes you to spend more, not to mention the temptation to actually purchase a box of those Girl Scout-style chocolate mint cookies being sampled just feet from the checkout area.  You get an A+ for your grocery shopping if you’ve ever resisted that pitch.

Until next time 


 “Don’t let anyone trick you with foolish talk.” Ephesians 5:6 CEV