Food for Thought: Supermarket Savvy
By Tricia Goyer
Beep. Beep. Beep. That’s the sound of foodbeing rung into the cash register at my local grocery store. I’m exhausted from another busy day, and I can’t wait to get home and eat.
Okay, I’ll admit it. What I’m really looking forward to first is the chocolate bar I picked up for the drive home!
While counting my cash, I watch as the last dozen items pass over the computerized scanner. The cashier hits the TOTAL button and smiles. “That comes to $48.39. Will that be cash today?”
I look at my wad of money again, glance at the red-numbered total and stammer. “No, uh, make that credit card.”
On the drive home, I attempt to justify spending $50 instead of $15. There were great sales, I tell myself, an, it’s food. I may be a little over budget, but we need to eat, right?
We all know that as teen moms, spending tons of money is not an option. Yet the truth is I feel out of control in the grocery store and I’m not alone.
“Supermarkets are places of high impulse buying for both sexes–fully 60 to 70 percent of purchases there were unplanned,” says Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy (Simon and Schuster). And Underhill ought to know. His research and consulting firm has followed more than 50,000 shoppers through their retail experiences in stores, banks, and public offices. Maybe those shoppers also feel out of control in the grocery store. Maybe they too think... What’s one candy bar?
A recent study by M&M Mars, Inc, proves I’m closer to the truth than I thought. Gum, mints, candy and magazines are the most popular checkout items with almost two-thirds of shoppers purchasing gum or mints at the checkout once a month or more and 56 percent purchasing candy. (Boy, that ‘just one candy bar’ sure adds up!)
Out of those surveyed, two-thirds of consumers agreed: These items are not needed. Yet they continue to find their way into our grocery sacks.
Ever wonder why milk is always in the back? Grocers want shoppers to cover territory. The longer we spend in the store, the more tempting items we will pass en route to the necessities — and the more money we will spend.
Love that cheerful music? Of course. It relaxes us and causes us to slow our pace. Peanut butter on the cookie aisle? I’ve scratched my head over this one, only to learn that placing a regularly bought product next to impulse items like cookies boosts sales.
“In the end, it’s not enough that goods are within reach of the shopper,” Underhill says. “She must want to reach them. And having reached them, she must then wish to own them, or all this effort goes for naught.”
Uh huh. My “unspoken inclinations and desires” — internal emotions — definitely motivate my impulse shopping. I don’t know about you, but I shop when I’m tired, or bored, or need a little ‘pick me up.’ And those are only a few of the reasons.
Let Underhill count the ways: “We use shopping as therapy, reward, bribery, pastime, an excuse to get out of the house, a way to troll for potential loved ones, as entertainment, as a form of education or even worship.”
Worship? That’s going too far, isn’t it? Maybe not.
In one of my favorite songs titled I Choose You, Point of Grace talks about the fact that everyone’s worshipping something... and they choose to worship God.
According to Dictionary.com, one of the definitions for worship is: “Ardent devotion; adoration.”
Hmmm, that sounds like me when I’m strolling through the grocery store aisles, staring in awe of all my food choices. Can you relate?
Of course, I can’t wait to deal with the problem until I’m pushing that cart up and down the aisles of my local supermarket, though. It must start before I even enter the store doors. Or more importantly at the beginning of the day when I’m on my knees.
This confirms what my grocery bill has been saying all along. I’ve been looking to food for satisfaction, as a way to bring me some sense of pleasure after a busy day. Focusing on the Father instead of food I don’t really need may take a little more work, but it will save me money — and from having to explain to my checkbook my “necessary” purchases with candy bar-breath.
Would you like some more supermarket savvy help?
Read Tricia's 7 Tips for Smart Shoppers!