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Six ways to be a smarter supermarket shopper

These Which? top tips could help you make some tasty savings when stocking up on household goods and groceries, reveals Vicky Shaw

When it comes to visiting supermwarkets, we're voting with our wallets as well as our feet, according to new research.

Whichever store you favour, there are some simple habits you can pick up when heading out shopping to help keep more of your money in your pocket when you get to the tills.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, says: "It's in the supermarkets' interest to get you spending money in their aisles. Sneaky tricks, such as special offer displays and placing essentials at the back of the store, are designed to get you picking up more items.

"There are a number of ways to help you cut the cost of your basket, wherever you shop," he adds. "Simple things like taking a shopping list with you and calculating the true saving on a discount could help make your money go further."

Here are six top tips from Which? for savvier supermarket shopping ...

1. Don't always assume that a 'special offer' is a great deal

Some 43% of Which? members in a previous survey said supermarket special offers encourage them to buy more items. And previous research from Which? across several supermarkets has found that some 'special offer' periods can actually last for nearly a year - arguably making them the normal price. So if you're going for something just because it says it's on special offer, consider whether you might be better off just going with a cheaper alternative. Don't buy it just because you feel a sense of urgency to snap up what looks like a special deal.

2. Stay focused

You may walk into the supermarket to buy something specific, but once you're there it's so easy to get distracted by attractive displays or signs. Which? says one trick used is to place a sign in the middle of an aisle, as our eyes naturally scan from left to right, and breaking up that pattern encourages us to stop and read the offer. Other tactics include creating an ambience, with smells of freshly-baked bread or floral bouquets. Or they may create a sense of urgency to grab a bargain, with stacked up boxes of beer or other deals. Take a deep breath and remind yourself what you went in for.

3. Avoid multi-buys which aren't as good as they appear

The consumer group's research has found that special multi-buy offers can look better than they really are as in some cases the price of buying items individually can be ramped up by supermarkets just before the multi-buy deal kicks in, making the saving made from buying multiple items appear bigger.

4. Disregard dubious discounts

If a price is listed as 'was x, now y', you might expect the 'x' price to be the most recent - but this isn't always the case, as previous Which? research has found.

Over a third (37%) of Which? members say they'd go for this type of deal over any other offer, so they can be tempting.

5. Put your blinkers on

The essentials are often stocked at the back of the store, meaning you may have to walk past many tempting treats to get to what you need. Heading straight for what you want might be simple enough if it's your regular supermarket, but it can be more difficult if it's a store you're less familiar with. While items can be switched around, if you're a bit lost in the aisles you could bear in mind that in many stores generally bread and dairy products are often at the back, fruit and veg at the front and frozen items further off towards the right.

6. Consider supermarket own-brand alternatives

Own-brand products can be a very tasty way of saving money. Several own-branded products have gained prestigious Which? 'best buy' status across the supermarkets - these have included M&S The Collection Mince Pies and Lidl Christmas pudding.

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