| 4.3°C Belfast

Seven ways the supermarkets try to tempt you into spending more money

Wonder why you always end up making impulse buys at the big high street chains? It’s all part of the plan, as Vicky Shaw finds


All in the mind: big stores use clever tactics to tempt us to fill our trolleys with more than we planned

All in the mind: big stores use clever tactics to tempt us to fill our trolleys with more than we planned

Getty Images/iStockphoto

All in the mind: big stores use clever tactics to tempt us to fill our trolleys with more than we planned

Ever gone out to buy a packet of biscuits - and then returned home with three packets, a new outfit, and a meal-deal from your supermarket's new food range? If so, you're far from alone in being seduced by your supermarket's tempting offers.

Whether or not the food shop is something you enjoy doing, many of us will end up coming out of the store with our trolleys piled much higher than we'd originally intended - which will come as no surprise to those behind the nifty tactics big shops employ.

So, how exactly are supermarkets tempting us to part with more cash than we planned to?

Here, Andy Barr, retail expert and founder of Alertr.co.uk, which tracks product prices, looks at the psychology behind supermarket shops and why some visits can lead to impulse buys and spending more money than we bargained for...

1. The store layout

The design and functionality of a store can have a powerful effect on not only the way people buy, but also how much they buy. Stores' use of space encourages people to explore sections they would otherwise avoid, and encourage them to make purchases they mightn't need otherwise. Some stores will theme the way they display items, so that people can imagine themselves in certain bedroom, kitchen and living room layouts. Taking a more subtle approach, supermarkets encourage additional customer spending by offering deals and discounted products at the front of the store.

They then ensure products falling under the alcohol and beauty categories are stocked at the back of the store, in order to allow customers to feel as though they've saved enough money (elsewhere) to justify more costly purchases.

2. Promotions at eye-level

Promotions that are too good to miss out on will always catch your eye, right?

That's because they are normally displayed at eye-level. This is a clever tactic to encourage you to spend. You might not want that product, and it's not on your shopping list - but it's on offer, so why not? Next time you are at a supermarket, be sure to notice the promotions set out to meet your focus; this greater awareness may make you less susceptible to buying.

3. Impulse-buys by the till

You've finished your weekly shop and you're finally at the check-out, but how often does the lure of chewing gum, chocolate or a magazine catch your attention?

While waiting in a queue, it can be hard not to add tempting products to your conveyor belt. Take a pause to evaluate your impulse purchases. If you don't need it, then it's not worth it.

4. Free samples

Who doesn't love the chance of free food? If that free sample turns out to be good, you'll want more, which means making a purchase.

5. Offers which may not be as good as they first seem

Whether it's 'purchase three items to get the fourth free', or two for £2, there's a tactic involved here that is determined to make you part with your money. Do you even need four in the first place? Probably not. You're already buying one, being tempted into buying two more you don't necessarily need, just to get a fourth for free!

With multiple purchase deals, always check original prices to make sure your savings are actually significant, and ensure any item purchased in bulk is something you'll use on a regular basis.

6. The 99p tactic

Stores will stick 99p on the end of many products. If something costs £39.99, customers looking to spend no more than £40 may be tempted, regardless of the fact they are realistically only saving 1p.

7. Lighting

Lighting in the store can be crucial. You'll notice that a lot of the time, supermarkets use a lot of bright lights.

If you can't see the products or those discounts clearly, you probably won't buy or be bothered to look closely.

If everything is easy to see and accessible then you are more than likely to spend more of your hard-earned cash.

Be sure to take some sunglasses with you next time!

How to avoid unexpected financial headaches this bonus season

As the end of the financial year approaches, we're in bonus season, when some people may find they get an added windfall from their employer. But while a bonus can be a nice cash boost, it can also cause some financial headaches.

Sarah Coles, a personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, says: "It pays to know the risks, and what you can do to avoid them."

Here are some potential impacts she says people may need to watch out for:

Universal credit

Increased earnings feed through into the universal credit system, so you may receive lower payments.

Child benefit

If you're a parent and a bonus takes the income of one half of a couple over £50,000 they may be subject to the higher income tax charge, which means they have to pay back some or all of their child benefit.

New tax bracket

The bonus can push you over a tax limit and into paying 40% or 45% on a chunk of your income - so you receive a far smaller lump sum than you expected.

Pension nightmares

People on higher incomes can find the tax relief on their pension contributions is affected when their earnings reach certain thresholds.

Tax misunderstandings

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) keeps an eye on payments during the year, so it can change your tax code if you get a pay rise.

Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to avoid financial headaches.

Coles suggests checking your tax code with HMRC.

You could also ask your employer about sacrificing some or all of your bonus and having the difference paid into your pension, where it will get tax relief.

This could help to bring down your total pay for the year and help keep you on the right side of the child benefit limit.

Of course, you'll need to wait to get your hands on the money in your pension.

Financial fact: UK consumers collectively paid £104m in 2019 as they accessed money from fee-charging ATMs, according to analysis from consumer group Which?

Two-fifths (40%) of over-50s savers have had to give up putting money in their accounts for an extended time as other outgoings took priority, a survey by Co-op Insurance found. This figure rises to almost three-fifths (58%) for savers aged 50-54. When asked why, more than a quarter (28%) had unexpected bills and nearly a fifth (19%) said someone in their family needed financial help, so they gave money to them instead.

More than two-thirds (68%) of people say it takes over a week for a property they have just moved into to feel like home, according to a survey by Zoopla, while 39% take longer than a month to feel at home. Zoopla questioned more than 2,000 people across Britain. More than a third (37%) of people deep clean their property on the first day of moving in, while a fifth (20%) celebrate with a takeaway, the poll also revealed.

There has been a jump in people trying to hide poor repayment histories when applying for financial products, according to fraud prevention service, Cifas, which reported an increase by just over a quarter (26%) in 2019 compared with 2018.

Adverse credit refers to a poor repayment history, usually on loans or credit cards. Cifas said 21-30-year-olds account for nearly three-quarters of cases involving application fraud activity. It said withholding information or lying about adverse credit on an application for a financial product is fraud.

Please log in or register with belfasttelegraph.co.uk for free access to this article.

Already have an account?

Belfast Telegraph