Heading down to your local grocery store to do your weekly shopping run might seem like a pretty ordinary task – you go in, you take what you need, and leave. However, like any other business, grocery stores have a lot to hide, especially from their customers. Here are 10 Secrets Grocery Stores Don’t Want You To Know!
10. Strategic Placing
The first thing you need to know about grocery stores is that nothing is random. Everything has a specific purpose, and everything has its own designated spot on the shelves. From the perkiest apples on top to the most expensive bag of rice, grocery stores make sure you see what they want you to see first, all the while being sneaky about it. You’ve probably heard the phrase “eye-level is buy-level” at some point in your life – it’s pretty self-explanatory, really. Grocery stores will usually put the most expensive items, like the most popular brands, right at eye level or just below, while the generic store brands will be put lower or at the very top. Why is that? It’s because people tend to buy the first thing that catches their attention. The more visible a product, the higher the sales are likely to be. This has been proven with children and sweet, sugary cereals. These are usually on the bottom shelves – exactly where kids can easily spot them. Where these products are placed in the grocery store is also crucial and never left up to chance. Usually, goods placed at the beginning of an aisle won’t sell well. The customer needs to adjust to being in a new section so it can take a little time before they decide what to buy. Next time you’re at a grocery store, don’t forget to look up, down, left, and right to make sure you’re not missing out on some really good deals.
9. Always Clean Your Stuff
With the pandemic ravaging our lives for over a year, we all drastically changed many routines in our lives – including more serious and responsible cleaning and sanitizing. In this day and age, it makes sense that you should always – always – clean your groceries, but even after this sanitary crisis passes, this is one practice that should not be abandoned. Let’s just say grocery stores aren’t the cleanest of places. Former employees have warned and advised customers to always thoroughly wash anything they buy at a grocery store. Like, produce, for instance. It’s not uncommon that bugs – little or big – can set up camp in your fruits or veggies before they’re cleaned. And, even if and when they’re cleaned, some are pretty resilient. Spiders, earwigs, and various little insects can sometimes be found in your bananas, lettuce, and even cauliflower. The best way to ensure they’re all gone? Give them a big, long wash before you eat them. But bugs aren’t the only reason you should wash your produce. It’s also to avoid all the chemicals, potential food-borne illnesses, and bacteria lurking around. Oh, and that’s not even considering all the other people who touched your apple before you bought it. Just think, everything on the shelves has had at least 5 employees touch it already, plus countless customers. So, if you’re feeling a little germaphobic right about now, maybe make it a habit of rinsing everything.
8. It’s All About The Sale
Ever wonder why whenever you step foot into a grocery store, you sometimes have the sudden urge to head straight to the bakery section and get everything on the shelf? Well, there’s quite an easy explanation for this, and it all goes back to strategic placement. We know how items are placed on the shelves with a very specific goal, the same goes for the in-house bakery. Bakeries are usually situated right by the door, making it the first thing you see – and smell. The smell part is very important in this case. According to grocery stores, the comforting smell of freshly baked bread activates salivary glands, puts people in a good mood, and pushes them to go straight to the goods. Kind of like the pie on the window sill in every cartoon. High-margin items like bread are meant to be seen first, and in almost every case, the bakery is the first destination. The same thing goes for flowers. They smell great and inspire happiness in most people, which is why they’re always right at the entrance, arranged in a nice, inviting way. As hard as it may be to resist the temptation, during your next grocery run, instead of caving in to the delicious smell of bread, make it your last stop. Go buy all of your essentials, and only then, if you’ve still got the urge, swing by the flower and bakery departments on the way out. Your wallet will thank you.
7. They Produce A Ton Of Waste
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that grocery stores don’t exactly have the most upstanding ecological footprint. We have all become more and more conscious of this issue and have tried to do what we can to minimize waste while grocery shopping. For example, by bringing your own reusable bags and avoiding unnecessary packaging as much as possible. However, more often than not, the problem comes from the grocery store itself. Basically, no matter how much effort you put into trying to be less wasteful, it will pretty much be negated by the amount of waste the store produces. Obviously, it also depends on what store you go to. Some will recycle practically everything and do their best to keep their carbon footprint to a minimum, while others couldn’t care less about any of it. Most of the waste has a lot to do with the “sell by” and “expiration” date. Of course, grocery stores cannot sell anything that has exceeded the “sell by” date, meaning everything that isn’t sold will end up in the trash since they are not allowed to donate it. The truth is, many products can be perfectly safe and good to eat up to three weeks past the “sell by” date. There’s gotta be a better way.
4. Fresh Or Thawed Bread?
Speaking of products that are not as fresh as you thought, it’s time to talk about those tempting baked goods from the bakery we mentioned before – unfortunately. Now, this next fact might not be true for every grocery store, but it sure isn’t a small minority. Your local grocery store might advertise its bread, pastries, and everything from its bakery as freshly made in-house, but there is a high chance that it’s all just a bunch of lies. Most of the time, everything comes in frozen, and all they do is thaw it out and warm it up for you. Yea, that enticing smell comes across a little differently now, right? Nothing is made from scratch. Most of the bakery items “made in-store” are just prepared using a bunch of frozen dough. This “never fresh” mentality also applies to those pretty cakes you see. They’re all pre-made; all they do is put the icing and decorations on it. Feeling betrayed, yet? A lot of people have stopped buying from the grocery store bakery for this very reason, feeling like they had been paying for more than they were getting. So, next time you’re out at the grocery store, and you feel like buying a nice fresh loaf of bread, consider going to a real bakery instead. You’ll probably get more than your money’s worth there.
3. The Music Is Not Random
Again, grocery stores never leave anything to chance. They always make sure that every tiny detail is considered to ensure that you spend the most money. Forget the product placement; this is a whole new level of subtle manipulation. Grocery stores will play specific music that will have a desirable effect on the customers. Have you ever paid attention to the music while you were shopping? Was it an upbeat dance playlist? Rock music? Or more like some kind of “elevator” music? Chances are, it was probably the last of the choices. You see, stores will play a mix of soft, classical, and nostalgic music, not because the guy with the aux chord has a soft spot for this kind of music, but for a very precise reason. It’s all about getting the customers as relaxed as possible and ready to buy. The whole point of this carefully-planned playlist is to calm customers and slow them down. Music with a slow rhythm tends to make you move slower, meaning you spend more time in the store, and the more time you spend in the store, the more likely you are to buy more than originally intended. This technique is also used in restaurants. Making people feel more at ease and relaxed means they will often order more than one dish – and stay for dessert. It’s all about good business, really.
2. Not A Lot Is Cleaned Often
One of the points that has been stressed the most over the course of this list of secrets is how not-so-clean grocery stores really are. From little creatures roaming around the store to questionable meat, you have to be very careful, whatever you buy. But, at the end of the day, it all comes down to the final step of your shopping experience, the conveyor belt. The apparently very dirty and rarely cleaned conveyor belt. According to many former employees, these belts might just be the dirtiest thing in the whole store. The cashiers don’t a lot of free time to clean them, and even if they do their best to keep it as clean as possible, it’s never going to be completely free of germs. And even so, belts are so porous, you could scrub them day and night, but never get them fully clean. This is why you probably shouldn’t ever put loose produce – produce not in a plastic bag – on the belt – especially not on busy days. Just think about everything that’s been on it: leaking raw meat juices, milk, sticky spots, seafood water, and so much more that flies under the radar. The best advice? Clean everything that touches that belt; better to be safe than sorry!
1. Pre-Cut Is Not Worth It
Since we all live busy lives, it’s nice to know that there are ways for us to make our days a little easier. However, sometimes, cutting corners might not be to your advantage – at least, not when it comes to cutting vegetables. A lot of people resort to buying pre-chopped fruits and veggies to save some preparation time. While, in theory, it sounds like the perfect solution, it turns out that the price of convenience isn’t at all cheap. Sure, they are equally nutritious and contain all the same stuff as the regular, uncut ones, but you might be paying way more than you realize. It only takes a couple of minutes to properly wash and cut your vegetables, but if you opt for the pre-cut version, not only are you getting a smaller portion for a much higher price, but you’re also usually getting a less fresh product. Another downside to the pre-cut produce packages? A higher risk of contamination. About half of all foodborne illnesses in the U.S. stem from fresh produce contaminated with salmonella, E. coli, or listeria. The more the product is handled, the greater the chance of becoming contaminated. And, to top everything off, the pre-cut produce has a shorter shelf-life and comes with a lot of plastic packaging. In conclusion, if it only takes five minutes to prepare, save the convenience and save the money and buy the whole thing.