The 3 most common shopping traps – and how to avoid them

Whether online or in store, shopping traps can fool almost anyone. They’re designed to trick shoppers into spending more money than they need or want to. Luckily, they can be avoided — you just need to know how to spot them.

To help, we examine the three main tricks of the trade.

Online offers

Online shopping appeals to many of us for choice, ease and convenience. No wonder internet sales account for almost 20 per cent of all retail purchases. But web retailers have their tricks to make sure you spend more than you may have intended to.

A lot of retailers offer free delivery, provided you spend over a certain amount. It’s often tempting to add a few more things to your basket to make sure you hit this limit, but is it as cost-effective as you think? Have a look at the original shipping cost. Is it lower than the extra you’re going to spend to avoid it?

If so, you may want to stick to your initial spending plan.

Supermarket layouts

Supermarket shopping is fraught with temptation. From the moment you enter the store, you have to run a gauntlet of traps that retailers use to relieve you of as much of your money as they can.

Layout is one of the key areas that retailers focus on. For example, pricier items are usually placed at eye level, so you are more likely to choose them, rather than the less expensive items further down or higher up.

Likewise, common essentials — like dairy and meat — are typically located at the back of the shop, so visitors have to travel through the rest of the supermarket to reach them. And probably pick more things up along the way. Especially if they’re hungry or thirsty.

The solution? Make a list and don’t stray from it. Making a list helps you stick to your budget and should be one of your key strategies in keeping an eye on your finances. And don’t shop on an empty stomach!

Till treats 

Many of us have been tempted by the checkout till treats when we’re queuing up to pay or have been harangued by our children to buy them.

Sweets, chocolate and drinks can be just what we need at the end of a supermarket shop, but they aren’t essential items. These last-minute purchases could put you at least £2 over your budget each week. That adds up to a fair amount over a year.

If you’re a supermarket snacker, take some nuts or other nibbles with you to eat whilst you shop, so when you reach the checkout, you won’t be tempted. And if you have the kids with you, you can placate them with a brought-from-home treat pulled from the bag just before you reach the checkout.

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