Impulse Buying Increases Waste

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Candy. Gum. The $2 special at the end of Aisle 9. Impulse buys have become a sort of economical art in supermarkets, where store design and product arrangement influence customer spending. The longer the supermarket can keep you inside their store, the more they can expect you to spend; “when you dilly dally in a store for 10 unplanned minutes, you can kiss nearly $20 goodbye,” writes The Denver Post.

You’ve probably heard the proverbial complaint “they always hide the milk and eggs.” That’s because supermarkets intentionally hide them. Normally, the “basics” (bread, milk, eggs, cheese) are stuck in the area farthest from the store entrance, so customers have to walk past more product displays to get to them. The strategy works. End-of-aisle displays sell more statistically than items on interior grocery aisles. Impulse spending increases.

The problem with impulse spending is that it interrupts what you come to the grocery store for. You come to the store because you need food – and while we all enjoy purchasing things we want occasionally, buying impulsively can cause us to return home with more food than we need. This generates waste by stocking the pantry with impulsively purchased stuff, which is prone to being either forgotten or expired as you consume the food you needed. While impulse buys are great for supermarket balance sheets, they promote unsustainable shopping by increasing waste for the sake of profit.

As a grocery store, it makes every bit of sense for us to design our store in a way that influences our customers to spend the most money – after all, we’ve got to pay our bills. But doing so would undermine our entire purpose: to eliminate waste, to promote sustainable lifestyles, and to drive change in America’s food industry. Instead of encouraging our customers to buy buy buy, we encourage you to come to in.gredients for what you need. No display frills, no hidden milk and eggs.

Written by Brian Nunnery

January 18, 2011 at 2:00 am

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