Supermarkets have so many offers on at any one time that we're baffled and confused into missing the bargains. A new report has revealed that the techniques used to get us to buy more are actually driving us to make mistakes.
So is this a deliberate policy to rip us off?
BaffledThe research, from shopping behaviour analysis, SBXL, found that when we go to the supermarket, we are hit with an astonishing number of promotions. In the run-up to Christmas, it found that one in five goods on the shelves were on offer - which means the typical shopper sees a new deal every three quarters of a second.
Our brains work well enough to discern that something is on offer. Phillip Adcock, managing director of SBXL told AOL that this is us using our brains in the way they were evolved to work: we see a big, bright sign, and we know something is on special offer.
However, we are not equipped to do the required maths to understand whether the deal is any good or not. Aldcock says again is an evolutionary issue. Numbers have simply not been around long enough for us to have evolved a way of processing them fast enough. We have to actually stop and do the maths, which most people don't do. As he told AOL: "Our brains just can't cope with what we've created."
What can you do?Adcock, who has produced a book called Shopology, The Science of Supermarket Shopping, says that just recognising that our brains can't cope is a good start. He adds: "When you see something on offer, stop and think twice, and do the maths so your understand the deal."
He adds: "When you take a shopping list to the supermarket, write it on the till receipt from last week. That way you'll be able to see for yourself what it cost last week, rather than being confused by deals."
The good news, he says, is that if we understand how the supermarkets work we can use it to our advantage. He says: "There's a huge opportunity here. The supermarkets are obsessed with market share, so they are continually developing offers and are changing prices so fast that the systems don't always cope and sometimes you get deals that are even better than they were supposed to be."
"Alternatively you can spot the items that are priced particularly low in order to fight for market share, and buy as many as you will use before the expiry date."