August 10, 2012 - 5 minutes read

Few weeks ago, another great supermarket opened nearby. I wanted to buy some melon and coffee, so I got in just to check it out and do shopping. After almost an hour, I got out with a 50 euro bill and an hour of my life that I can never get back. Like a time jump. Snap. It just went away, 60 minutes flew away. Poof! I almost had a Twilight zone moment because I was sure that I had been there for 15 minutes tops. My parking reminder buzzed me that something in there was very wrong.

A week later, I went to the same supermarket, but this time, I turned off my autopilot shopping brain and tried to examine every single detail in the store and see what the heck they are doing. So, while you read this, imagine one of the supermarkets that you’re doing your shopping in and see if it fits the “wallet inferno” rules.

Ok, let’s start. Let’s say you want to buy two simple groceries that you need every day: milk and bread. Think about your store. Think about the shelves that you have to pass to get to the milk and bread. There is no way that you can get to them without passing the junk food section. No way. They put the milk fridge or the bakery in the far end corner of the store so you have to pass through all the hooks: ice-creams, sweets, chips and all other expensive junk. The bakery is near the deli-department? Wow yes, it’s a coincidence. When you smell fresh bread, you will surely skip the deli part with all the gourmet cheeses, sausages and prosciuttos, yes definitely, you’re made of steel, right?

Some would say it’s a conspiracy, but let’s think through. To keep fresh easily spoiled groceries, you need a fridge, right? For the fridge, you need electricity, right? And the electric plugs are usually in the walls? So, try to shop using the outskirts, the border walls of the supermarket because there is less chance you’ll buy total foodcrap that way. Think of instant meals from a bag. They are full of synthetic preservatives that keep them usable for eeeeeh like forever. Instant soup has an expiration date, but to be honest, it wouldn’t spoil if you keep it for 10 years. The same is with chips, crackers, candies, instant pasta meals, instant noodles and canned meals that won’t spoil even if your grandma kept it from the second world war. So, to skip the poisoned area, focus your attention to the edges, where there are great chances that you’ll find food that won’t make your ass bigger and wallet tinier.

What kind of music do you hear in the store? You don’t remember? Well let me tell you, they play some chill relaxing music. They want you to stay every minute longer, because people spend 1$ more each additional minute after first 30 minutes of shopping. Yes, studies proved that. And the smell? Mmmm, yes, it smells nice. It smells like hot freshly baked bread and the chances are that they don’t bake bread at all in the store. Some scent producers, like AirAroma offer different types of air hooks for your store. If you have clothing store, you’ll choose vanilla scent because studies show that it stimulates purchase. The next time you’re in the store, focus your attention on what you’re in to buy, run like a horse with a blindfolds on the side, take the damn milk and run out without looking back.

So, what else they do: they sell out the shelf space at the eye sight level for insane money. You figure out, not all the producers can pay this slotting fee, so the ones with the greatest profit are in the place. Chances you’ll buy cheap products if you look at the products at your eye level are zero. Look down, look up, get down on your knee, don’t be lazy. And try not to take your kids to the market with you. They put all the kids stuff, small ones that you can’t say no at the bottom, where kids can see them. Japanese masterminds even put small plastic stools so kids can stand on them and pick up the candies from higher shelves. Sneaky bastards.

I remember the time when I was 4 years old and the salesmen were honest and human. My dad took me to the store to buy me a baby doll and he asked me what I liked. The cheap ones were on the bottom shelves. But then, sneaky little me, I asked him to pick me up so I can see what’s up there. He literally had to pick me up so I can see the expensive dolls on the higher shelf. And that was his biggest mistake that day, but back to the point: when you’re in the line on the cash register, try to distract yourself. Don’t look around because you will buy the most expensive batteries, most expensive bubble gums and most expensive sweets and chocolate bars because the “ dog shelf” at the register sells 3 times much per square meter than any other shelf in the store!

So, the next time you enter the supermarket, get your shopping list, put your headphones in your ears, eat before you go shopping, go only around the edges of the store and let me know if you make it, because I just don’t.