Observing Canada’s Grocery Store Pricing Tactics

I walked into Safeway this morning to pick up a couple things we’ve run out of: milk, bread and bananas. Not just normal bread, but gluten-free bread. (Put “gluten-free” on any product and immediately double or triple the price of non gluten-free comparable items.) I notice the advertised prices. There’s a sign in front of my bread in the freezer section that looks like a sale price. My hopes go up. Then I see the sign: $5.49 each if you buy two. $5.99 for one.

Grocery Sale Pricing Tactics

Before I caught onto this subtle psychological wording, I would have fallen into the grocery trap that has slyly taken over the industry and shoppers into a stranglehold. Or at least it is an annoying fact of daily life.

So, my weekly budget for an outrageously-priced loaf of gluten-free bread is one loaf. Yes, this is in number of loaves, not an amount. Given the fluctuation on prices, and discrepancies from store to store, it is impossible for me to assign an amount. Usually at the end of the week, I’ve run out of bread by Friday and have to make do without bread until Sunday night when we do our shopping.

Back to the point of this article.

I buy one loaf, I pay “50 cents more” than the invented sale price, for a total of $5.99, which rounds up to $6.00.

I buy two loaves, I “save” $1.00, but I’ve spent $11 — $5.00 more than intended.

Then I get home and I’m excited because I have “extra” bread and I can go to town eating it. In essence, I don’t have to adhere to my budget. I can eat more.

This article doesn’t touch on the subject that now I also have to make room in my fridge and freezer to store the extra loaf.

What the heck?!

Let’s look at some of the wording I’ve encountered:

  • Buy two or more and get it for a cheaper price
  • Buy three or more and get it for a cheaper price
  • Buy 3 and get one free

Or how about this one used by the clothing industry:

  • Buy 1 and get 1 for half off

I’ve even seen wording like this:

  • Buy one and pay $6 OR buy two and pay $6

As far as I can tell, this type of pricing was initially used to train us to watch out for the “deals” so that we would WANT to buy more so that we could “save money.”

Now that I’m consciously aware of what’s going on, I am far less likely to fall for this scam. For me — and I’m guessing for most consumers — it’s smarter to buy grocery items only when needed. It is self defeating to spend time making a grocery list, as well as adhering to a monthly food budget, if I blow it every week falling for these slick grocery marketing strategies.

Hi, I’m Allison Kessler and I live in Calgary with my boyfriend, 14-year-old daughter and new baby son (weird, I know!) I read Tarot cards, design websites and study astrology — so I’m basically a workaholic and a learnaholic. Thanks for reading!

Calgary mompreneur | figuring it out, making it work.

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