Shoppers are being lured into spending more every time they walk through the supermarket gates as the cost of living crisis bites harder.
Supermarkets are using mind tricks to coax customers into jumping for impulse purchases, University of NSW Professor Nitika Garg says.
The bight red labels under items showing a capped price until a specific date imparts a sense of urgency making customers believe buying the item before the deadline offers the best deal.
Often, Prof Garg says, those locked-in prices are the same as the original price.
She warns shoppers to be wary of store deals such as "buy two, get one free" which on face value seem like a cost-effective way to save money.
Some deals can mislead, including promotions involving buying multiples of a product when they are actually priced at the same rate as buying the item on its own.
Sometimes it's not even about the money, Prof Garg says.
Supermarkets have learned playing calming music creates a relaxed atmosphere and encourages customers to stay longer, resulting in more purchases.
Store designs are also purposely thought out to put staple foods far from each other to make customers spend more time walking through the store.
And with more ground to cover, shopping carts and trolleys have supersized, tricking shoppers into thinking their baskets are missing items.
Shoppers can get a better bang for their buck by visiting multiple stores after researching where the best deals are.
But not everyone will have the opportunity to do this and Prof Garg says shoppers generally find processing information in stores difficult and go on autopilot while shopping.
That's where the supermarket tactics enter via cues that appeal to customers.
"A lot of the tactics are based on getting the consumer in, because once they're in, they will likely end up buying a lot more than they expected," Prof Garg says.
Supermarkets will also lure unsuspecting customers in through the loss leader concept with an attractive deal and bet on customers doing the rest of the shop there.
"They know that once you come in, you are likely to buy everything from them or at least, a lot more from them than planned."
And it's not only in-store shoppers that should stay vigilant, online customers should also be wary, Prof Garg says.
Australian Associated Press