top of page

The Psychology of the Supermarket


Have you ever wandered around your local grocery store on your weekly shop and wondered why the sprawling isles and endless rows of shelves are designed as they are? Perhaps you’ve been perplexed when looking for one item and finding it sitting on shelves alongside entirely unrelated products, and I’m sure you will certainly have experienced the frustration of making quick dash to the store for a carton of milk only to find you must follow the isles all the way around to where the milk is inconveniently located at the very back of the store. The supermarket layout often seems confusing and ill-thought out, but in fact the reality is the opposite – stores are intricately planned to divert your time, attention and money in as many directions as possible. However good your intentions and your shopping lists are, it is often difficult to emerge with a healthy basket of groceries from an environment where your eyes are constantly drawn to luxuries, snacks and treats. But don’t worry, here’s some useful tips to make your trip to the store as cheap and healthy as possible:

Make a List To be sure you only buy the things you need, making a shopping list is a ‘must’. This will help you avoid being drawn in by offers and sales which not only make you spend more money, but also encourage you to eat less healthily. Have you noticed it’s always junk foods that are on offer!? Checking off items on your list helps you stay focussed only on the items you originally wanted. Get a Basket Large shopping carts are another sneaky way that stores try and catch you out. If you walk around the store with a large trolley, you are likely to purchase additional items to fill it rather than just getting the few items you came for. On top of this, the extra foods you buy are likely to be unhealthy luxury items such as snacks and junk foods. The best way to get around this is to always choose a basket over a shopping cart wherever you possibly can! Buy Fresh Wherever possible, buying loose fresh food is always a better option than pre-packaged food. Not only are vegetables bought by weight fresher and healthier than those bought pre-packed, but they are usually cheaper too. It may be slightly more convenient to buy pre-packaged items, but buying by weight gives you better, healthier produce and minimises waste and cost. Bypass the Bakery Baked goods are always kept near the entrance of the stores so that you’re greeted with the smell of fresh-out-the-oven pastry as soon as you walk in. While this is a treat for the senses, the cakes, doughnuts, cookies, pies and array of other goodies in this section are enemies of a healthy lifestyle. To avoid the temptation, move as quickly as possible through this section once you enter the store. You should also be mindful as you approach the checkouts, as candy bars and other quick snacks are often placed in prime positions by the cash registers ready to entice you into a quick purchase. Don’t Shop Hungry One big mistake people make when visiting the supermarket is to do so when hungry. It might seem logical to pop into the store to grab a quick snack or your next meal, but if you are hungry it’s unlikely you’ll only leave with what you came in for. When you’re hungry you’re far more vulnerable to offers, panic buys and indulging in luxuries. Studies suggest that you’re also likely to choose less healthier foods.

bottom of page